Hardware vs. Software
The IT-revolution of our
time, started with the first chip based CPU - the 4004
back in November 1971. Before that time was all consumer
electronic based at dedicated chips (ACISs) or chips
from the 74x series of TTL-logic.
CPUs like the 4004 made it possible to convert hardware
into software - namely by creating a general hardware
design - the CPU board and the solve problems with
machine codes stored in memory.
The next revolution
came with the Programmable Logic Devices - like the
FPGA's. In combination with Hardware Description
Languages like VHDL was it now possible to create
hardware as easy like if it was software.
But will it always be
the best solution to solve all problems with FPGA's and
dedicated logic design, involving state machines?
No - of course not, in fact will Microcontrollers still
be the best solution for many applications (sorry FPGA)
Even if your design
involves a FPGA will you properly need some CPU power
for "non-time-critical" tasks like operator
communication etc. And it such cases will a
soft-processor properly be of great advantage.
In fact can you design
your own CPU from scratch and hence get the facilities
and performance you need - but the best solution will
properly be a standard product like: PicoBlaze, Arm,