Power modeling and characteristics of field programmable gate arrays

Fei Li, Yan Lin, Lei He, Deming Chen, Jason Cong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper studies power modeling for field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and investigates FPGA power characteristics in nanometer technologies. Considering both dynamic and leakage power, a mixed-level power model that combines switch-level models for interconnects and macromodels for lookup tables (LUTs) is developed. Gate-level netlists back-annotated with postlayout capacitances and delays are generated and cycle-accurate power simulation is performed using the mixed-level power model. The resulting power analysis framework is named as fpgaEVA-LP2. Experiments show that fpgaEVA-LP2 achieves high fidelity compared to SPICE simulation, and the absolute error is merely 8% on average. fpgaEVA-LP2 can be used to examine the power impact of FPGA circuits, architectures, and CAD algorithms, and it is used to study the power characteristics of existing FPGA architectures in this paper. It is shown that interconnect power is dominant and leakage power is significant in nanometer technologies. In addition, tuning cluster and LUT sizes lead to 1.7 × energy difference and 0.8 × delay difference between the resulting min-energy and min-delay FPGA architectures, and FPGA area and power are reduced at the same time by tuning the cluster and LUT sizes. The existing commercial architectures are similar to the min-energy (and min-area at the same time) architecture according to this study. Therefore, innovative FPGA circuits, architectures, and CAD algorithms, for example, considering programmable power supply voltage, are needed to further reduce FPGA power.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1712-1723
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Computer-Aided Design of Integrated Circuits and Systems
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • FPGA architecture
  • FPGA power model
  • Power characteristics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Graphics and Computer-Aided Design
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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