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Flexible intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) are highly desirable to support free allocation of function to IED by means of software reconfiguration without any change of hardware. The application of generic hardware platforms and component-based software technology seems to be a good solution. Due to the advent of IEC 61850, generic hardware platforms with a standard communication interface can be used to implement different kinds of functions with high flexibility. The remaining challenge is the unified function model that specifies various software components with appropriate granularity and provides a framework to integrate them efficiently. This paper proposes the function-block (FB)-based function model for flexible IEDs. The standard FBs are established by combining the IEC 61850 model and the IEC 61499 model. The design of a simplified distance protection IED using standard FBs is described and investigated. The testing results of the prototype system in MATLAB/Simulink demonstrate the feasibility and flexibility of FB-based IEDs.