Methodologies for Synthesizable Programmable Devices based on Multi-Stage Switching Networks

Cuppini, Matteo (2015) Methodologies for Synthesizable Programmable Devices based on Multi-Stage Switching Networks, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Tecnologie dell'informazione, 27 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/7013.
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Nowadays the rise of non-recurring engineering (NRE) costs associated with complexity is becoming a major factor in SoC design, limiting both scaling opportunities and the flexibility advantages offered by the integration of complex computational units. The introduction of embedded programmable elements can represent an appealing solution, able both to guarantee the desired flexibility and upgradabilty and to widen the SoC market. In particular embedded FPGA (eFPGA) cores can provide bit-level optimization for those applications which benefits from synthesis, paying on the other side in terms of performance penalties and area overhead with respect to standard cell ASIC implementations. In this scenario this thesis proposes a design methodology for a synthesizable programmable device designed to be embedded in a SoC. A soft-core embedded FPGA (eFPGA) is hence presented and analyzed in terms of the opportunities given by a fully synthesizable approach, following an implementation flow based on Standard-Cell methodology. A key point of the proposed eFPGA template is that it adopts a Multi-Stage Switching Network (MSSN) as the foundation of the programmable interconnects, since it can be efficiently synthesized and optimized through a standard cell based implementation flow, ensuring at the same time an intrinsic congestion-free network topology. The evaluation of the flexibility potentialities of the eFPGA has been performed using different technology libraries (STMicroelectronics CMOS 65nm and BCD9s 0.11μm) through a design space exploration in terms of area-speed-leakage tradeoffs, enabled by the full synthesizability of the template. Since the most relevant disadvantage of the adopted soft approach, compared to a hardcore, is represented by a performance overhead increase, the eFPGA analysis has been made targeting small area budgets. The generation of the configuration bitstream has been obtained thanks to the implementation of a custom CAD flow environment, and has allowed functional verification and performance evaluation through an application-aware analysis.

Tipologia del documento
Tesi di dottorato
Cuppini, Matteo
Dottorato di ricerca
Scuola di dottorato
Scienze e ingegneria dell'informazione
Settore disciplinare
Settore concorsuale
Parole chiave
CAD Flow, embedded FPGA, Multi-Stage Switching Networks, System-on-a-Chip
Data di discussione
4 Maggio 2015

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