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Direct Memory Access (DMA) is a type of FIFO-based data transfer between an FPGA target and host processor.

DMA communication consists of two DMA FIFOs: one FIFO on the host computer, and the other FIFO on the FPGA target.

DMA communication provides the following benefits:

  • Efficient separation of processing tasks between the FPGA target and host processor, so the host processor remains free to perform operations during data transfer
  • FPGA resource savings when transferring arrays of data
  • FPGA resource savings by limiting the number of panel controls and indicators shared between a target and host
  • Automatic synchronization for data transfers between the host and the FPGA target

You can use DMA communication for the following tasks:

  • Transferring waveform data between the FPGA target and host
  • Transferring large sets of data
  • Data logging in systems where the target and host are continually connected, such as embedded systems
  • Running algorithms, like digital signal processing, that the FPGA target processes more efficiently than the host computer