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Reducing the pressure on routing resources of FPGAs with generic logic chains

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Routing resources in modern FPGAs use 50% of the silicon real estate and are significant contributors to critical path delay and power consumption; the situation gets worse with each successive process generation, as transistors scale more effectively than wires. To cope with these challenges, FPGA architects have divided wires into local and global categories and introduced fast dedicated carry chains between adjacent logic cells, which reduce routing resource usage for certain arithmetic circuits (primarily adders and subtractors). Inspired by the carry chains, we generalize the idea to connect lookup tables (LUTs) in adjacent logic cells. By exploiting the fracturable structure of LUTs in current FPGA generations, we increase the utilization of the existing LUTs in the logic cell by providing new inputs along the logic chain, but without increasing the I/O bandwidth from the programmable interconnect. This allows us to increase the logic density of the configurable logic cells while reducing demand for routing resources, as long as the mapping tools are able to exploit the logic chains. Our experiments using the combinational MCNC benchmarks and comparing against an Altera Stratix-III FPGA show that the introduction of logic chains reduce the average usage of local routing wires by 37%, with a 12% reduction in total wiring (local and global); this translates to improvements in dynamic power consumption of 18% in the routing network and 10% overall, while utilizing 4% fewer logic cells, on average. Copyright 2011 ACM.

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