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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Activity-based power estimation and characterization of DSP and multiplier blocks in FPGAs Choy, Nathalie Chan King

Abstract

Battery-powered applications and the scaling of process technologies and clock frequencies have made power dissipation a first class concern among FPGA vendors. One approach to reduce power dissipation in FPGAs is to embed coarse-grained fixed-function blocks that implement certain types of functions very efficiently. Commercial FPGAs contain embedded multipliers and "Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks" to improve the performance and area efficiency of arithmetic-intensive applications. In order to evaluate the power saved by using these blocks, a power model and tool flow are required. This thesis describes our development and evaluation of methods to estimate the activity and the power dissipation of FPGA circuits containing embedded multiplier and DSP blocks. Our goal was to find a suitable balance between estimation time, modeling effort, and accuracy. We incorporated our findings to create a power model and CAD tool flow for these circuits. Our tool flow builds upon the Poon power model, and the Versatile Place and Route (VPR) CAD tool, which are both standard academic experimental infrastructure.

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