Glossary

ASIC
An application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) is a chip that is designed and used for a specific purpose, such as video acceleration, machine learning acceleration, and many more purposes. In contrast to FPGAs, the programming of an ASIC is fixed at the time of manufacture.
basic element
BEL
basic logic element
BLE

Basic elements (BELs) or basic logic element (BLEs) are the basic logic units in an FPGA, including carry or fast adders (CFAs), flip flops (FFs), lookup tables (LUTs), multiplexers (MUXes), and other element types. Note: Programmable interconnects (PIPs) are not counted as BELs.

BELs come in two forms:

  • Basic BEL - A logic unit which does things.
  • Routing BEL - A unit which is statically configured at routing time.
Bitstream
Binary data that is directly loaded into an FPGA to perform configuration. Contains configuration frames as well as programming sequences and other commands required to load and activate same.
Block RAM
Block RAM is inbuilt, configurable memory on an FPGA, able to store more data than the flip flops. The block RAM can function as dual or single-port memory. Xilinx 7 series devices offer a number of 36 Kb block RAMs, each with two independently controlled 18 Kb RAMs. The number of block RAMs available depends on the specific device.
CFA
A carry or fast adder (CFA) is a logic element on the FPGA that performs fast arithmetic operations.
Clock
A clock is a square-wave timing signal (50% on, 50% off) generated by an external oscillator and passed into the FPGA. The clock frequency drives the sequential logic elements in the FPGA, most importantly the flip flops. For example, the FPGA may use a 50 megahertz clock. An FGPA can use one or more clocks and can thus have one or more clock domains.
Clock backbone
Clock spine
In Xilinx 7 series devices, the clock backbone or clock spine divides the clock regions on the device into two sides, the left and the right side.
Clock domain
Portion of the device controlled by one clock. A clock domain is part of a horizontal clock row to one side of the global clock spine. The term also often refers to the tiles that are associated with these clocks.
Clock region
Portion of a device including up to 12 clock domains. A clock region is situated to the left or right of the global clock spine, and is 50 CLBs tall on Xilinx 7 series devices. The clock region includes all synchronous elements in the 50 CLBs and one I/O bank, with a horizontal clock row at its center.
Column
A term used in bitstream configuration to denote a collection of tiles, physically organized as a vertical line, and configured by the same set of configuration frames. Logic columns span 50 tiles vertically and 2 tiles horizontally (pairs of logic tiles and interconnect tiles).
Configurable logic block
CLB
A configurable logic block (CLB) is the configurable logic unit of an FPGA. Also called a logic cell. A CLB is a combination of basic logic elements (BELs).
Database
Text files containing meaningful labels for bit positions within segments.
Fabric sub region
FSR
Another name for clock region.
Flip flop
FF
A flip flop (FF) is a logic element on the FPGA that stores state.
FPGA
A field-programmable gate array (FPGA) is a reprogrammable integrated circuit, or chip. Reprogrammable means you can reconfigure the integrated circuit for different types of computing. You define the configuration via a hardware definition language (HDL). The word “field” in field-programmable gate array means the circuit is programmable in the field, as opposed to during chip manufacture.
Frame

The fundamental unit of bitstream configuration data consisting of 101 words. Each frame has a 32-bit frame address and 101 payload words, 32 bits each. The 50th payload word is an EEC. The 7 LSB bits of the frame address are the frame index within the configuration column (called minor frame address in the Xilinx documentation). The rest of the frame address identifies the configuration column (called base frame address in Project X-Ray nomenclature).

The bits in an individual frame are spread out over the entire column. For example, in a logic column with 50 tiles, the first tile is configured with the first two words in each frame, the next tile with the next two words, and so on.

Frame base address
The first configuration frame address for a column. A frame base address has always the 7 LSB bits cleared.
Fuzzer
Scripts and a makefile to generate one or more specimens and then convert the data from those specimens into a database.
Half
Portion of a device defined by a virtual line dividing the two sets of global clock buffers present in a device. The two halves are referred to as the top and bottom halves.
HDL
You use a hardware definition language (HDL) to describe the behavior of an electronic circuit. Popular HDLs include Verilog (inspired by C) and VHDL (inspired by Ada).
Horizontal clock row
HROW
Portion of a device including 12 horizontal clocks and the 50 interconnect and function tiles associated with them. A half contains one or more horizontal clock rows and each half may have a different number of rows.
I/O block
One of the configurable input/output blocks that connect the FPGA to external devices.
LUT
A lookup table (LUT) is a logic element on the FPGA. LUTs function as a ROM, apply combinatorial logic, and generate the output value for a given set of inputs.
MUX
A multiplexer (MUX) is a multi-input, single-output switch controled by logic.
Node
A routing node on the device. A node is a collection of wires spanning one or more tiles. Nodes that are local to a tile map 1:1 to a wire. A node that spans multiple tiles maps to multiple wires, one in each tile it spans.
PIP
Programmable interconnect point
A programmable interconnect point (PIP) is a connection point between two wires in a tile that may be enabled or disabled by the configuration.
PnR
Place and route
Place and route (PnR) is the process of taking logic and placing it into hardware logic elements on the FPGA, and then routing the signals between the placed elements.
Region of interest
ROI
Region of interest (ROI) is used in Project X-Ray to denote a rectangular region on the FPGA that is the focus of our study. The current region of interest is SLICE_X12Y100:SLICE_X27Y149 on a xc7a50tfgg484-1 chip.
Routing fabric
The wires and programmable interconnects (PIPs) connecting the logic blocks in an FPGA.
Segment
All configuration bits for a horizontal slice of a column. This corresponds to two ranges: a range of frames and a range of words within frames. A segment of a logic column is 36 frames wide and 2 words high.
Site
Portion of a tile where BELs can be placed. The slices in a CLB tile are sites.
Slice
Portion of a tile that contains BELs. A CLBLL_L/CLBLL_R tile contains two SLICEL slices. A CLBLM_L/CLBLM_R tile contains one SLICEL slice and one SLICEM slice. SLICEL and SLICEM are the most common types of slice, containing the LUTs and flip flops that are the basic logic units of the FPGA.
Specimen
A bitstream of a (usually auto-generated) design with additional files containing information about the placed and routed design. These additional files are usually generated using Vivado TCL scripts querying the Vivado design database.
Tile

Fundamental unit of physical structure containing a single type of resource or function. A container for sites and slices. The FPGA chip is a grid of tiles.

The most important tile types are left and right interconnect tiles (INT_L and INT_R) and left and right CLB logic/memory tiles (CLBLL_L, CLBLL_R, CLBLM_L, CLBLM_R).

Wire
Physical wire within a tile.
Word
32 bits stored in big-endian order. Fundamental unit of bitstream format.