FPGA Routing Architecture: Segmentation and Buffering to Optimize Speed and Density


In this work we investigate the routing architecture of FPGAs, focusing primarily on determining the best distribution of routing segment lengths and the best mix of pass transistor and tri-state buffer routing switches. While most commercial FPGAs contain many length 1 wires (wires that span only one logic block) we find that wires this short lead to FPGAs that are inferior in terms of both delay and routing area. Our results show instead that it is best for FPGA routing segments to have lengths of 4 to 8 logic blocks. We also show that 50% to 80% of the routing switches in an FPGA should be pass transistors, with the remainder being tri-state buffers. Architectures that employ the best segmentation distributions and the best mixes of pass transistor and tri-state buffer switches found in this paper are not only 11% to 18% faster than a routing architecture very similar to that of the Xilinx XC4000X but also considerably simpler. These results are obtained using an architecture investigation infrastructure that contains a fully timing-driven router and detailed area and delay models.

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