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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Power implications of implementing logic using field-programmable gate array embedded memory blocks Chin, Scott Yin Lunn

Abstract

Modern field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are used to implement entire systems, and these systems often require storage. FPGA vendors have responded by incorporating two types of embedded memory resources into their architectures: dedicated and nondedicated. The dedicated embedded memory blocks lead to much denser memory implementations and are therefore very efficient for implementing large systems that require storage. However, for logic intensive circuits that do not require storage, the chip area devoted to the embedded FPGA memory is wasted. This need not be the case if the FPGA memories are configured as ROMs to implement logic. Previous work has presented algorithms that automatically map logic circuits to FPGAs with both large ROMs and small lookup tables. These previous studies, however, did not consider the impact on power. Power has become a first-class concern among FPGA vendors. In this thesis, we develop a power model for FPGAs that contain embedded memories, and apply it to investigate the impact of various embedded memory architectural parameters on power dissipation when using memories to implement logic. From this study, we find that mapping logic to memories incurs a significant power penalty due to the power consumed in the embedded memories. We then investigate two possible ways to reduce this power penalty at the CAD level, one of which we found to be effective.

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