The discrete Fourier transform is a critical tool in digital signal processing where its value in analyzing the spectral content of signals has found application in a wide variety of applications. The most prevalent of these applications being in the field of communications where the ever increasing demand on signal processing capabilities have given rise to the importance of the Fourier transform to the field. However the Fourier transform is a part of many systems in a wide variety of industry and research fields. Its use ranges from signal processing for the analysis of physical phenomena to analysis of data in mathematical and financial systems.

The majority of systems requiring Fourier transforms are real time systems requiring high speed processing of data. Given the complexity in performing the discrete Fourier the implementation of high speed discrete Fourier transform has required the use of dedicated hardware processors. The majority of high performance Fourier transforms has required the use of full custom integrated circuits and has typically been in the form of an application specific integrated circuit. Although much work has been put into raising performance while reducing hardware requirements, and thus cost, the cost of full custom hardware still limited the availability of Fourier transform hardware for low volume production.

However the development of programmable logic hardware has produced devices that are increasingly capable of handling large scale hardware. High density field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) that are already available in the market can boast upwards of 180,000 logic elements, nine megabits of memory, and on board processors.

The use of FPGA in implementing hardware eliminates the need for the long and costly process of creating a full custom integrated circuit and the time and cost of testing and verification. Saving cost in designing, testing, and time from design to a functional device.

These features of the FPGA make it especially attractive for the purpose of creating Fourier transform processors for research and development purposes. With the use of FPGA designing a Fourier transform processor as a module in a larger design or for short term use can be done quickly at a low cost.


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