Block RAM-based architecture for real-time reconfiguration using Xilinx® FPGAs

15 August 2016

Despite the advantages dynamic reconfiguration adds to a system, it only improves system performance if the execution time exceeds the configuration time. As a result, dynamic reconfiguration is only capable of improving the performance of quasi-static applications. In order to improve the performance of dynamic applications, researchers focus on improving the reconfiguration throughput. These approaches are mostly limited by the bus commonly used to connect the configuration controller to the memory, which contributes to the configuration time. A method proposed to ameliorate this overhead is an architecture utilizing localised block RAM (BRAM) connected to the configuration controller to store the configuration bitstream. The aim of this paper is to illustrate the advantages of the proposed architecture, especially for reconfiguring real-time applications. This is done by validating the throughput of the architecture and comparing this to the maximum theoretical throughput of the internal configuration access port (ICAP). It was found that the proposed architecture is capable of reconfiguring an application within a time-frame suitable for real-time reconfiguration. The drawback of this method is that the BRAM is extremely limited and only a discrete set of configurations can be stored. This paper also proposes a method on how this can be mitigated without affecting the throughput