10 steps of the embedded FPGA integration into the SOC

January 31, 2023
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Embedded FPGAs offer the advantages of both ASIC and FPGA in a single package, providing the best of both worlds for SoC designs.

The world of technology has moved from static system-on-chip (SoC) designs to dynamic, programmable, and adaptable system-on-chip (SoC) designs. With the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the need to quickly and easily integrate new features into existing designs, the use of embedded field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) has become a popular choice. Embedded FPGAs offer the advantages of both ASIC and FPGA in a single package, providing the best of both worlds for SoC designs. In this article, we will explore the challenges in designing with an embedded FPGA, and how to integrate an embedded FPGA into an SoC.

Embedded FPGA integration into the SOC Steps

1. Define the requirements: Determine the specific requirements for the FPGA, such as the size, performance, power consumption, and desired features.

2. Choose the FPGA: Based on the requirements, select the FPGA that meets the needs of the SoC design.

3. Choose the design flow: Decide on the design flow to be used, such as RTL to GDSII or high-level synthesis to GDSII.

4. Create the FPGA design: Develop the FPGA design, including defining the inputs and outputs, and creating the RTL or high-level synthesis.

5. Integrate the FPGA into the SoC: This step involves physically connecting the FPGA to the SoC, which can be done through various methods such as wire bonding, flip-chip, or through a package-on-package (PoP) solution.

6. Verify the design: Verify the FPGA design and the SoC integration to ensure that the FPGA is working as expected and meets all the requirements.

7. Optimize the design: Optimize the design for power consumption, performance, and area utilization, if necessary.

8. Manufacture: Fabricate the SoC, including the integrated FPGA, using the desired manufacturing process.

9. Test and validate: Test the SoC to validate the functionality of the FPGA and the SoC as a whole, and make any necessary changes.

10. Deploy: Finally, deploy the SoC with the embedded FPGA in the desired application.

Benefits and Challenges

Embedded FPGAs offer a number of advantages over traditional FPGA designs. First, embedded FPGAs are much smaller than traditional FPGAs, allowing them to be integrated into the SoC design without the need for external components or connections. This makes them ideal for use in small form factor designs. Additionally, eFPGAs offer the flexibility and adaptability of a traditional FPGA while being integrated into the SoC design. This allows the SoC to be customized and adapted quickly and easily, without the need to redesign the entire system. Finally, embedded FPGAs are also much more power efficient than traditional FPGAs, making them ideal for use in battery-powered or low-power designs.

While embedded FPGAs offer many advantages over traditional FPGAs, they do present some unique challenges. First, due to their small size, embedded FPGAs may have the limited logic capacity and may not be suitable for applications with large amounts of logic. Additionally, embedded FPGAs may have limited I/O capabilities, making them unsuitable for applications with high I/O requirements. Finally, embedded FPGAs may require additional design effort to integrate into the SoC design, as well as additional power consumption to support the FPGA logic.

Conclusions from DRex Electronics

DRex thinks “Embedded FPGAs are becoming increasingly popular for use in SoC designs due to their flexibility, adaptability, and power efficiency”.

However, designing with an embedded FPGA can be challenging due to the limited logic capacity, limited I/O capabilities, and additional design effort required. By following the steps outlined above, designers can successfully integrate an embedded FPGA into an SoC design, allowing them to quickly and easily customize and adapt their designs.