Reconfigurable Technologies

Reconfigurable devices are widely used in industry today, most notably in the form of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). A reconfigurable logic device is a generic device that has the ability to implement any logic circuit. Traditional development of a circuit for an FPGA does in many ways resemble the development process for ASICs. The main difference is that the design can be uploaded for testing on the FPGA in few seconds unlike the costly and lengthy ASIC production process that can take months.

FPGAs are still mostly used for prototyping ASIC designs or directly as an ASIC replacement in the product. But if the FPGA is allowed to reconfigure itself while in operation, some exciting possibilities opens.

One possibility is fault detection and repair. If spare reconfigurable resources are available, the circuits could be made to detect hard faults and reconfigure around them. This would enable continued correct behaviour also when parts of the reconfigurable fabric is faulty. This is useful when the level of production defects is high and when operating in an environment where defects are likely to occur or very damaging if they do.

Research into reconfigurable technologies involves identifying suitable architectures for reconfigurable fabrics, which typically is closely linked to the application area it is to be used for.

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