Understanding Power Consumption for the Xilinx FPGA

If you are concerned about the power consumption of an Xilinx FPGA, then you may want to use the XPower Analyzer. This is a post-route tool for analyzing the power consumption of both Xilinx FPGAs as well as certain CoolRunner FPGAs.

The tool allows you to interactively estimate how much power your FPGA is running. It is easy to set up. Simply select Implementation from the Design View

list in the Design PAnel, and then select the top mode out of the Hierarchy Pane.

Expand Place & Route Process

Next, in the Processes pane, expand the Place & Route process, and select XPower Analyzer, and choose Process Properties. From here, you can select the properties that you need for your analysis. Select XPower Analyzer, and allow it to run. The analyzer will show you power data related to your design. You can generate data, view a report, or generate a programming file.

For the most part, the Xilinx FPGAs are quite power efficient. There are spreadsheets that will give you a rough idea of how much power your application will use as well. These spreadsheets will give you a worst-case idea of power consumption, which means you can use them to avoid common pitfalls, such as over-designing or under-designing your cooling.

You can use these tools at any stage of your design works, so that you can figure out how much power consumption you have to worry about, and you can get detailed information about what you are doing. The XPE spreadsheet – provided by Xilinx themselves – will give you an idea of the power at whatever stage in the design process you are at. This will allow you to get thermal and power consumption information, and works with Vivado and ISE Design tools, so you can use data taken from previous designs, and use that dta to help with the estimation of power consumption for the next generation of products.

Ventilation And Cooling

Power consumption is something that you need to take seriously. It is something that you will need to worry about both for battery power and for drain, and you will need to figure out what ventillation and cooling will be required. Some FPGAs can get by with passive cooling, others will need more sophisticated set ups with traditional fans – which adds another point of failure, and also means that you will need to think about noise as well.

There is a lot to consider when you are designing electronics such as monitoring and control applications. The more prediction and monitoring tools you can employ at the design and prototyping stage, the better the chances of success. It is unlikely that any application is going to use the maximum power consumption that the FPGA is capable of – and even if they do, it would not run at max for long. Charting power at different levels of load is a useful way of getting an idea of what your design is capable of and how well it will run. For more information visit http://www.directics.com/brand/xilinx/