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Embryonics: a new methodology for designing field-programmable gate arrays with self-repair and self-replicating properties

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6 Author(s)
Mange, D. ; Logic Syst. Lab., Fed. Inst. of Technol., Lausanne, Switzerland ; Sanchez, E. ; Stauffer, A. ; Tempesti, G.
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The growth and the operation of all living beings are directed through the interpretation, in each of their cells, of a chemical program, the DNA string or genome. This process is the source of inspiration for the Embryonics (embryonic electronics) project, whose final objective is the conception of very large scale integrated circuits endowed with properties usually associated with the living world: self-repair (cicatrization) and self-replication. We begin by showing that any logic system can be represented by an ordered binary decision diagram (OBDD), and then embedded into a fine-grained field-programmable gate array (FPGA) whose basic cell is a multiplexer with programmable connections. The cellular array thus obtained is perfectly homogeneous: the function of each cell is defined by a configuration (or gene) and all the genes in the array, each associated with a pair of coordinates, make up the blueprint (or genome) of the artificial organism. In the second part of the project, we add to the basic cell a memory and an interpreter to, respectively, store and decode the complete genome. The interpreter extracts from the genome the gene of a particular cell as a function of its position in the array (its coordinates) and thus determines the exact configuration of the relative multiplexer. The considerable redundancy introduced by the presence of a genome in each cell has significant advantages: self-replication (the automatic production of one or more copies of the original organism) and self-repair (the automatic repair of one or more faulty cells) become relatively simple operations. The multiplexer-based FPGA cell and the interpreter are finally embedded into an electronic module; an array of such modules make it possible to demonstrate self-repair and self-replication.

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Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 3 )