Hard and Soft Embedded FPGA Processor Systems Design: Design Considerations and Performance Comparisons

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Author(s) Vincent A. Akpan
Pages 1000-1020
Volume 3
Issue 11
Date November, 2013
Keywords Embedded processor system design, Dhrystone benchmark, field programmable gate array (FPGA), embedded PowerPC™440 processor core, embedded MicroBlaze™ processor core, Virtex-5 FX70T ML507 FPGA.


This paper presents a novel and efficient hardware/software co-design techniques for the development of high-performance embedded processor system targeting field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs). Some very important and critical design considerations for developing FPGA embedded processor systems are first presented. Next, the architectures of the IBM hard-core PowerPC™440 and the Xilinx soft-core MicroBlaze™ processors are introduced together with comprehensive techniques for FPGA embedded processor systems design. Then, two embedded processor systems are designed, implemented on Virtex-5 FX70T ML507 FPGA development board, tested and their performances are evaluated on an industry-standard FPGA benchmark DMIPs (Dhrystone million instructions per second). The two embedded processors are based on: 1) the IBM PowerPC™440 hard processor core and 2) the Xilinx MicroBlaze™ soft processor core. Experimental results have shown that the IBM hard-core PowerPC™440 embedded processor system out-performs the Xilinx the soft-core MicroBlaze™ embedded processor system in terms of FPGA device consumptions and their maximum operating frequency for the DMIPs benchmark implementation. The DMIPs benchmark performance results indicate that the embedded processor system are highly optimized and can be deployed for the development of real-time embedded processor systems. Finally, a brief conclusion and some discussions on future directions are given.

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