Unifying FPGAs and SIMD Arrays

Article by Michael Bolotski, André DeHon, and Thomas F. Knight, Jr. appeared in Proceedings of the 1994 Workshop on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA'94, February, 1994). (workshop proceedings not available outside of workshop)

Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) and Single-Instruction Multiple-Data (SIMD) processing arrays share many architectural features. In both architectures, an array of simple, fine-grained logic elements is employed to provide high-speed, customizable, bit-wise computation. In this paper, we present a unified computational array model which encompasses both FPGAs and SIMD arrays. Within this framework, we examine the differences and similarities between these array structures and touch upon techniques and lessons which can be transfered between the architectures. The unified model also exposes promising prospects for hybrid array architectures. We introduce the Dynamically-Programmable Gate Array (DPGA) which combines the best features from FPGAs and SIMD arrays into a single array architecture.