2002-016 – Programmable Gate Array Based on Configurable Metal Interconnect Vias, which Can Increase Efficiency of Silicon Area Utilization

The rising costs of manufacture and design of integrated circuits and systems has created an increasing interest in FPGAs (field programmable gate arrays) for a wide spectrum of application-specific hardware designs. FPGAs provide extremely short design times no application-specific manufacturing costs and do not require extensive verification and redesign that plagues application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) in general. The ease of design and the field programmability is afforded by the programmable and/or reconfigurable logic blocks (CLBs) and the programmable interconnections based on switch-boxes designed by way of programmable pass transistors. In addition FPGAs can be manufactured in very large volumes because the programmability allows a single chip to be used in a large number of different designs. However this programmability is at the cost of silicon area utilization which can be extremely high for an FPGA and orders of magnitude less efficient than a customized silicon system. Moreover the FPGA switch boxes result in lower performance circuit operation due to the limitations of the pass transistors.This invention is for a via-programmable gate array (VPGA). A via is a cut manufactured between two metal layers on an integrated circuit to electrically interconnect the two segments of metal on those different layers. A VPGA differs from an FPGA in that the programmability in a VPGA is provided bymodificatiaon of placement of vias rather than data bits stored in a memory. Reed McManigle reedm@andrew.cmu.edu 412-268-5443

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