FPGA v/s DSP Performance Comparison for a VSC-based STATCOM Control Application

M. Figueroa, Carlos Baier, Christian Sepulved, José Espinoza and Javier Muñoz


Digital signal processors (DSPs) and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are predominant in the implementation of digital controllers and/or modulators for power converter applications. This paper presents a systematic comparison between these two technologies, depicting the main advantages and drawbacks of each one. Key programming and implementation aspects are addressed in order to give an overall idea of their most important features and allow the comparison between DSP and FPGA devices. A classical linear control strategy for a well-known voltage-source-converter (VSC)-based topology used as Static Compensator (STATCOM) is considered as a driving example to evaluate the performance of both approaches. A proof-of-concept laboratory prototype is separately controlled with the TMS320F2812 DSP and the Spartan-3 XCS1000 FPGA to illustrate the characteristics of both technologies. In the case of the DSP, a virtual floating-point library is used to accelerate the control routines compared to double precision arithmetic. On the other hand, two approaches are developed for the FPGA implementation, the first one reduces the hardware utilization and the second one reduces the computation time. Even though both boards can successfully control the STATCOM, results show that the FPGA achieves the best computation time thanks to the high degree of parallelism available on the device.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1109/TII.2012.2222419