Developer Guide

Contents

FPGA Architecture Overview

A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is a reconfigurable semiconductor integrated circuit (IC).
FPGAs occupy a unique computational niche relative to other compute devices, such as central and graphics processing units (CPUs and GPUs), and custom accelerators, such as application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs). CPUs and GPUs have a fixed hardware structure to which a program maps. Conversely, ASICs and FPGAs can build custom hardware to implement a program.
While a custom ASIC generally outperforms an FPGA on a specific task, they take significant time and money to develop. However, FPGAs are a cheaper off-the-shelf alternative that you can reprogram for each new application.
An FPGA is made up of a grid of configurable logic, known as adaptive logic modules (ALMs), and specialized blocks, such as digital signal processing (DSP) blocks and random-access memory (RAM) blocks. These programmable blocks are combined via configurable routing interconnects to implement complete digital circuits.
The total number of ALMs, DSP blocks, and RAM blocks used by a design is often referred to as the
FPGA area
or
area
that the design uses.
The following image illustrates a high-level architectural view of an FPGA:
FPGA Architecture
FPGA Architecture

Product and Performance Information

1

Intel's compilers may or may not optimize to the same degree for non-Intel microprocessors for optimizations that are not unique to Intel microprocessors. These optimizations include SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instruction sets and other optimizations. Intel does not guarantee the availability, functionality, or effectiveness of any optimization on microprocessors not manufactured by Intel. Microprocessor-dependent optimizations in this product are intended for use with Intel microprocessors. Certain optimizations not specific to Intel microarchitecture are reserverd for Intel microprocessors. Please refer to the applicable product User and Reference Guides for more information regarding the specific instruction sets covered by this notice.

Notice revision #20110804