What is a Processor in Context of Reliability Analysis

How is a "processor" defined when considering requirements on developing a design? A project I am on is shoving software into HDL to design an FPGA w hich is being considered "hardware". I'm not fighting it because FPGAs are what I do. Board level design is a necessary evil to support the FPGA. If not for the desire to make approval easier the FPGA would not be on the bo ard.

I'm concerned that the thinking it will take less effort to get approval on the FPGA than approval on the equivalent software running on an MCU. I'm not seeing a basis for this comparison.

The context is medical equipment, specifically a ventilator. I'm working o n one of the many open source projects that have sprung up in response to C OVID-19.

The functionality of the FPGA is to detect the alarm conditions. To do tha t the FPGA requires sensor readings of pressures, O2 levels, temperature an d a couple of voltages. Fixed calculations will be performed, not under co ntrol of any software, rather state machines. The issue is whether any of this constitutes "processor software" since at some level there is source c ode that is compiled by tools.

Compare to the C programs being developed for the MCU as well as to the sch ematic editors and layout software that are used to generate the Gerber fil es and pick and place files for automated assembly.

Where does the definition of "processor software" begin and end?

  Rick C. 

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