iDEA: A DSP block based FPGA soft processor

Hui Yan Cheah, Suhaib A. Fahmy, Douglas L. Maskell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

32 Scopus citations


This paper presents a very lean DSP Extension Architecture (iDEA) soft processor for Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). iDEA has been built to be as lightweight as possible, utilising the run-time flexibility of the DSP48E1 primitive in Xilinx FPGAs to serve as many processor functions as possible. We show how the primitive's flexibility can be leveraged within a general-purpose processor, what additional circuitry is needed, and present a full instruction-set architecture. The result is a very compact processor that can run at high speed, while executing a full gamut of general machine instructions. We provide results for a number of simple applications, and show how the processor's resource requirements and frequency compare to a Xilinx MicroBlaze soft core. Based on the DSP48E1, this processor can be deployed across next-generation Xilinx Artix-7, Kintex-7, and Virtex-7 families. © 2012 IEEE.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFPT 2012 - 2012 International Conference on Field-Programmable Technology
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'iDEA: A DSP block based FPGA soft processor'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this