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FPGA Architecture Design and Applications

The FPGA has its roots in earlier devices such as programmable read-only memories (PROMs) and programmable logic devices (PLDs). These devices could be programmed either at the factory or in the field, but they used fuse technology (hence, the expression “burning a PROM”) and could not be changed once programmed. In contrast, FPGA stores its configuration information in a re-programmable medium such as static RAM (SRAM) or flash memory. FPGA manufacturers include Intel, Xilinx, Lattice SemiconductorMicrochip Technology and Microsemi.

A basic FPGA architecture  consists of thousands of fundamental elements called configurable logic blocks (CLBs) surrounded by a system of programmable interconnects, called a fabric, that routes signals between CLBs. Input/output (I/O) blocks interface between the FPGA and external devices.

The functions of an FPGA architecture module are discussed below:

  • CLB (Configurable Logic Block) includes digital logic, inputs, outputs. It implements the user logic.
  • Interconnects provide direction between the logic blocks to implement the user logic.
  • Depending on the logic, switch matrix provides switching between interconnects.
  • I/O Pads used for the outside world to communicate with different applications.

Depending on the manufacturer, the CLB may also be referred to as a logic block (LB), a logic element (LE) or a logic cell (LC).


Logic Block contains  MUX (Multiplexer), D flip flop and LUT. LUT implements the combinational logical functions; the MUX is used for selection logic, and D flip flop stores the output of the LUT.

The basic building block of the FPGA is the Look Up Table based function generator. The number of inputs to the LUT vary from 3,4,6, and even 8 after experiments. Now, we have adaptive LUTs that provides two outputs per single LUT with the implementation of two function generators.

FPGA Logic Block

Xilinx Virtex-5 is the most popular FPGA, that contains a Look up Table (LUT) which is connected with MUX, and a flip flop as discussed above. Present FPGA consists of about hundreds or thousands of configurable logic blocks. For configuring the FPGA, Modelsim and Xilinx ISE softwares are used to generate a bitstream file and for development.



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