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Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have gained wide acceptance among low- to medium-volume applications. However, there are gaps between FPGA and custom implementations in terms of area, performance and power consumption. In recent years, specialized blocks - memories and multipliers in particular - have been shown to help reduce this gap. However, their usefulness has not been studied formally on a broad spectrum of designs. As FPGAs are prefabricated, an FPGA family must contain members of various sizes and combinations of specialized blocks to satisfy diverse design resource requirements. We formulate the family selection process as an ldquoFPGA family compositionrdquo problem and propose an efficient algorithm to solve it. The technique was applied to an architecture similar to Xilinx Virtex FPGAs. The results show that smart composition technique can reduce the expected silicon area up to 55%. The benefit of providing multiplier blocks in FPGAs is also shown to reduce total area by 20% using the proposed algorithm.
Date of Conference: 8-10 Sept. 2008