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How to program, Architecture, and applications of Lattice FPGA

Field-programmable gate array is FPGA. It is a kind of integrated circuit (IC) that, after production, may be customized and programmed by the user. FPGAs can be reprogrammed and tailored to multiple applications or functions, unlike application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), created for a particular purpose.

We can build custom digital circuits using programmable logic blocks, configurable input/output blocks, and programmable routing resources in FPGAs. These gadgets are frequently helpful in computer networking, video and image processing, aerospace, and defense.

FPGAs have several benefits over conventional ASICs, including a quicker time to market, less expensive development, and more flexibility. Additionally, they eliminate the need for a costly and time-consuming professional ASIC design team, enabling designers to integrate unique logic functions.

How it works

Input/output blocks (IOBs), programmable routing resources, and configurable logic blocks (CLBs) comprise most FPGA components. These components are all connected via a programmable interconnect structure. When coupled, any bespoke digital logic function can be implemented using this set of configurable blocks and resources.

Configuration and operation are the two primary processes in the fundamental operation of an FPGA.

Configuration: The FPGA must be set up with the desired logic architecture because it was originally empty. Usually, a hardware description language (HDL) like VHDL or Verilog is ideal. Then, a configuration bitstream created from the HDL code synthesizes, compiled, and placed into the FPGA’s non-volatile configuration memory.

Operation: Once configured, the FPGA can be helpful like any other digital circuit. The user-defined logic functions in the CLBs process the input signals once they route through the IOBs and programmable interface to those devices. The connection and IOBs then help to return output signals to the external devices.

Comparison with traditional hardware

Lattice FPGA board
Lattice FPGA board

Compared to conventional hardware designs, FPGAs have several benefits, including:

  • Flexibility: FPGAs are incredibly adaptable and can program it for various jobs. As a result, fewer hardware designs are necessary because a single FPGA can be helpful for several applications.
  • Price: Generally, FPGAs are less expensive than conventional hardware designs, especially for low to medium manufacturing volumes. After all, FPGAs can be programmed and reprogrammed to carry out various jobs.
  • Time-to-Market: Compared to conventional hardware designs, FPGAs can be programmed and tested significantly more quickly. This means that new items can be introduced to the market more quickly, which is crucial in sectors like consumer electronics.
  • Performance: For applications requiring sophisticated logic functions, FPGAs can perform better than conventional hardware architectures. This is due to the flexibility of FPGAs, which may be modified as necessary and optimized to do particular jobs.
  • Power usage: FPGAs can use less power than conventional hardware layouts. This is so that FPGAs can carry out specified jobs with the least amount of resource waste possible.

However, there are disadvantages to using FPGAs, including:

  • Complexity: Compared to conventional hardware designs, FPGAs might be more challenging to design and program. FPGAs need expertise in hardware description languages and specialized programming and testing tools.
  • Price: FPGAs can be more expensive for high-volume production, despite being less expensive than conventional hardware designs for small to medium production levels. This is due to the unique manufacturing procedures needed for FPGAs.
  • Limited Resources: FPGAs have only a certain amount of CLBs, IOBs, and routing resources. This indicates that larger and more intricate designs would need additional FPGAs, which could raise the cost.
  • Latency: Compared to conventional hardware designs, FPGAs may contribute more latency. Setting up and programming FPGAs before using them takes more time.

Lattice FPGA

Lattice Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are a class of reconfigurable programmable logic devices we can set up for various tasks. For example, several industries use telecommunications, automotive, industrial control, medical, and the military.

Lattice FPGAs are unique in their low power consumption, which makes them perfect for situations where power consumption is crucial. They are also appropriate for usage in applications with limited space because of their tiny form factor.

Hardware description languages (HDLs), such as Verilog and VHDL, can program Lattice FPGAs. Lattice FPGA designs are created, simulated, and implemented using the Lattice Diamond software suite. The software package consists of a GUI for entering designs, a compiler for turning designs into netlists, and a place-and-route tool for placing designs on FPGAs.

The built-in intellectual property (IP) blocks in Lattice FPGAs include memory controllers, high-speed transceivers, and DSP blocks, among others. These IP-building pieces can be incorporate into a design to simplify production

Several families of lattice FPGAs exist, each with distinctive features and abilities. The ECP5, MachXO3, and CrossLink-NX families of Lattice FPGAs are a few well-liked families.

Lattice FPGA Architecture


A global routing network links the programmable logic blocks (PLBs) in a hierarchy found in lattice FPGAs (GRN). Each PLB comprises a flip-flop and a customizable logic block (CLB) arranged in rows and columns. We implement the Boolean logic functions of the design by the CLB, which is the fundamental component of the FPGA. The flip-flop helps synchronize and store data.

Lookup table and multiplexer

A lookup table (LUT) and multiplexer comprise the CLB (MUX). The truth table of a Boolean function sits in the LUT, a programmable memory. We choose the output of the LUT or the input from the next CLB using the MUX. Carry chains are another feature of the CLBs for quick addition and subtraction operations.


Signals must be routed between the PLBs by the GRN. The inputs and outputs of the CLBs connect by a system of horizontal and vertical wires known as the GRN. Moreover, the GRN has programmable switches that the designer can use to link the PLBs in any pattern they like.

Dedicated resources

Furthermore, we can implement memory and arithmetic operations using specialized resources in lattice FPGAs. Specifically, designed blocks for implementing RAM, ROM, and DSP functions are among these resources. Furthermore, arranging the RAM blocks as single-port or dual-port memory is possible. Moreover, we can set up the ROM blocks. Finally, the implementation of arithmetic operations, including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division, is optimized for the DSP blocks.

Clock management resources

Furthermore, clock management resources are provided by lattice FPGAs, enabling the designer to produce and distribute clocks throughout the system. These tools include delay-locked loops (DLLs) and programmable phase-locked loops (PLLs), which may produce clocks with various frequencies and phases. To ensure that the clock signals reach various components of the design simultaneously, the PLLs and DLLs can also be helpful for clock skew management.

High-speed serial interfaces

Moreover, Lattice FPGAs have resources set aside for implementing high-speed serial interfaces like USB, Gigabit Ethernet, and PCI Express. In addition, physical layer (PHY) circuits, serializers, and deserializes are resources that implement the interface’s electrical and low-level signaling requirements.

Configuration memory

Lattice FPGAs additionally have a configuration memory that houses configuration and design data. Many techniques can program the configuration memory, including JTAG, SPI, and a separate configuration bus. In addition, we can modify a piece of the FPGA without affecting the remainder of the design thanks to a configuration memory feature that enables partial reconfiguration of the FPGA.

Power management resources

Lattice FPGAs also provide several power management capabilities that the designer can use to lower the design’s power usage. These capabilities include low-power modes, which allow the FPGA to be put into a low-power state when not in use, and dynamic power management, which enables unneeded design components to turn off to save power consumption.

Programming Lattice FPGA

FPGAs are programmable devices to carry out particular functions or create digital circuits. FPGAs comprise a grid of programmable logic cells coupled with programmable routing resources. One of the top FPGA producers, Lattice Semiconductor, provides a broad selection of devices for various purposes.

Setting up the development environment

Lattice FPGA development environments needs setting up in several different ways. This is an overview:

Lattice Diamond software installation: Most FPGA development using Lattice devices uses this software. Follow the installation wizard after downloading it from the Lattice Semiconductor website.

Setup the cables for Lattice programming: You might need to add particular programming connections depending on your kind of Lattice FPGA. The Lattice Semiconductor website has the drivers and installation instructions.

Get your FPGA board ready: Use USB or another compatible interface to connect your FPGA board to your PC. To ensure it is powered on and connected correctly, adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make a new undertaking: Open a new project in the Lattice Diamond software. Choose your FPGA device from the list of compatible devices and adjust the project settings as necessary.

Put your VHDL or Verilog code here: Either write your code in Verilog or VHDL using the Lattice Diamond program. These are the two main programming languages for FPGAs.

Make a model of your design: Before synthesizing your design for the FPGA, test it using Lattice Diamond’s simulation tool.

Create a binary file that can be put onto the FPGA by synthesizing your design using the Lattice Diamond synthesis tool.

Configure your FPGA: The binary file produced in the preceding step should be used to program the FPGA using the Lattice programming tool included in Lattice Diamond.

After completing these procedures, your Lattice FPGA development environment should be completely operational.

Creating a new project

Creating a new project in Lattice Diamond is the initial step in programming a Lattice FPGA. A project, a collection of design files and configuration information, defines an FPGA design. Go to file ~, then New ~, then Project in Lattice Diamond, and choose the device family and type corresponding to your intended FPGA board to start a new project. Next, select the project’s name and location before clicking OK.

Adding design files to the project

The project needs to have design files added once we create it. This is because the source code for the FPGA design is in design files written in a Hardware Description Language (HDL) like Verilog or VHDL. By selecting Add Sources from the context menu when you right-click the project name in the Project Navigator in Lattice Diamond, we can add design files to the project.

Any text editor or integrated development environment (IDE), such as Xilinx Vivado or Quartus Prime, can be used to create design files. However, the behavior and functionality of an FPGA design depend on a top-level module that instantiates other modules or components.

Synthesizing the design

We must combine the design after adding the design files to the project. A netlist, an illustration of the FPGA architecture in terms of logic gates and flip-flops, is created through synthesis, which involves translating the HDL code into a netlist. The Lattice Synthesis Engine (LSE), a part of Lattice Diamond, is used for synthesis.

Choose Synthesize Design from the Process menu in Lattice Diamond to synthesize the design. The LSE tool will then start and analyze the HDL code to produce a netlist. Depending on the needs of the design, the LSE tool offers a variety of synthesis options, including optimization level, technology mapping, and clock domain analysis.

Implementing the design

We must put the design into practice when it synthesizes. Implementing the requested functionality involves mapping the netlist onto the FPGA architecture, configuring the programmable logic cells, and allocating resources. The Lattice Diamond Place-and-Route (P&R) tool is helpful for implementation, and it creates a bitstream file by mapping the netlist onto the FPGA design.

Choose Implement Design in Lattice Diamond’s Process menu to implement the design. Then, the Place-and-Route (P&R) tool will launch, mapping the netlist onto the FPGA architecture and creating a bitstream file.

The P&R tool performs several operations, such as placement, routing, and time analysis. The physical location of each logic cell on the FPGA depends on the placement. Routing entails configuring the interconnect resources to connect the logic cells following the netlist. Finally, by performing timing analysis, you can ensure the design complies with the timing specifications in the HDL code.

It’s crucial to set up the implementation settings correctly based on the design specifications during implementation. This entails picking the appropriate FPGA family and device, establishing the I/O restrictions, and defining the timing and power parameters.

Once the implementation is complete, the P&R tool creates a bitstream file with the FPGA configuration information. Then, the Diamond Programmer tool can download the bitstream file to the FPGA.

Programming the FPGA

Intel FPGA

Once the bitstream file is ready, you can download it to the target FPGA board to begin programming the FPGA. The Diamond Programmer tool, which supports various programming modes, including JTAG, SPI, and flash programming, can accomplish this.

Connect the target FPGA board to the computer via a USB cable, then start the Diamond Programmer tool to program the FPGA. First, choose the programming mode, then select the programming parameters to match the target FPGA board. The bitstream file will then be downloaded to the FPGA when you pick it and click program.

After programming, the FPGA will perform the desired functionality provided in the HDL code. We may rapidly prototype and develop FPGA designs since we can reprogram the FPGA as often as necessary.

Debugging the design

FPGA design must include debugging since it enables us to find and correct design flaws. Lattice Diamond offers several tools for debugging FPGA designs, including simulation, timing analysis, and waveform visualization.

Simulation entails simulating the HDL code with a simulator tool, such as ModelSim or Aldec Active-HDL. Before programming the FPGA, we can use simulation to evaluate the design’s functionality and find any problems or errors in the HDL code.

Timing analysis entails examining the design’s timing performance to ensure it complies with the timing specifications stated in the HDL code. Lattice Diamond offers a timing analyzer tool that enables us to examine the design’s timing performance and spot any timing inaccuracies.

Waveform watching entails utilizing a waveform viewer tool, such as Lattice Reveal, to observe the signals and data flow in the design. By inspecting the waveform, we can see how the design behaves and spot any problems or errors in the HDL code.


Industrial application of Lattice FPGA

Lattice FPGAs are helpful in several industrial applications in numerous sectors. For example, lattice FPGAs are frequently essential in the following industrial applications:

Industrial Automation:

Lattice FPGAs are used in industrial automation to operate robots, monitor, and manage production processes, and set up machine vision systems, among other things. FPGAs are perfect for industrial automation applications with high-speed data processing and minimal latency since they provide real-time processing capabilities.


To accomplish high-speed data transport, signal processing, and protocol conversion, communication systems utilize lattice FPGAs. Furthermore, FPGAs are employed in cable, optical, and wireless communication systems to increase performance and decrease delay.

Test and Measurement:

In test and measurement devices like oscilloscopes, signal analyzers, and network analyzers, lattice FPGAs are suitable. FPGAs are perfect for test and measurement applications that call for high precision and low latency because they can process data at high speeds and in real time.


Energy applications include the monitoring and control of energy distribution networks, the implementation of energy management systems, and the control of power-producing systems. FPGAs are perfect for building energy-efficient systems since they have a high performance to low-power consumption ratio.


Lattice FPGAs are helpful in medical applications to interpret medical imaging data, monitor vital signs, and control medical equipment. FPGAs are perfect for medical applications requiring real-time processing and low energy usage due to their high performance and low power consumption.

Aerospace and Defense:

Lattice FPGAs are helpful in aerospace and defense applications for various functions, including managing radar, missile guidance, and avionics systems. FPGAs are perfect for aerospace and defense applications that demand robustness and endurance in severe environments because of their high dependability and radiation tolerance.

Automotive application of Lattice FPGA

There are numerous uses for lattice FPGAs in the automobile sector. For example, lattice FPGAs are frequently essential in the following automotive applications:

Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS):

For purposes like object identification, lane departure warning, and collision avoidance, lattice FPGAs are helpful in ADAS. In addition, FPGAs are perfect for ADAS applications that need high-speed data processing and minimal latency since they have real-time processing capabilities.

Engine Management Systems:

Lattice FPGAs are helpful in engine management systems to regulate the timing of the ignition, fuel injection, and other aspects of the engine. FPGAs are perfect for building intricate engine control systems because of their high performance and low power consumption.

In-Car Infotainment Systems: 

Lattice FPGAs are helpful in in-car entertainment systems to perform audio processing, video decoding, and user interface control. FPGAs are the best choice for incorporating cutting-edge infotainment features in contemporary vehicles because they combine great performance and low power consumption.

Head-Up Displays (HUDs):

HUDs use lattice FPGAs to project critical driving data onto the windscreen, such as speed, directions, and safety alerts. FPGAs are perfect for implementing advanced HUD features because they provide real-time processing and high-resolution graphics capabilities.

Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS):

To monitor tire pressure and identify probable tire failures, TPMS uses lattice FPGAs. FPGAs are perfect for constructing TPMS systems that constantly run without depleting the car’s battery because they have high data processing speeds and little power consumption.

Adaptive Lighting Systems:

Adaptive lighting systems use lattice FPGAs to change the headlights according to speed, weather, and kind of road. FPGAs are perfect for building sophisticated lighting control systems that increase driver safety and visibility since they have real-time processing capabilities.

Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) and Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) Communications:

Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication are possible using lattice FPGAs in V2V and V2I communication systems. In addition, FPGAs are perfect for building real-time communication systems that can increase traffic safety and efficiency because they provide high-speed data processing and low latency.

Consumer electronics application

Lattice FPGAs’ excellent performance, low power consumption, and flexibility make them useful in various consumer electronics applications. For example, lattice FPGAs are frequently helpful in the following consumer electronics applications:

Mobile Devices:

Mobile devices use lattice FPGAs to process audio and video, manage batteries, and process sensor data. FPGAs are perfect for incorporating sophisticated features in mobile devices while preserving battery life because they combine great performance with low power consumption.


For activities like audio and video processing, user interface control, and picture identification in gaming applications, lattice FPGAs are helpful. FPGAs are perfect for integrating sophisticated gaming features and enhancing user experience since they provide real-time and high-speed data processing capabilities.

Virtual and Augmented Reality:

In virtual and augmented reality systems, lattice FPGAs are helpful for operations like image and video processing, sensor data processing, and user interface control. In addition, FPGAs are perfect for integrating real-time virtual and augmented reality features because of their high performance and low latency.

Audio and Video Processing:

Applications for audio and video processing, including soundbars, smart speakers, and video streaming devices, utilize lattice FPGAs. FPGAs are perfect for integrating advanced audio and video processing features while reducing energy usage since they have excellent performance capabilities and low power consumption.

Robotics and Drones:

Robotics and drone applications use lattice FPGAs for sensor data processing, navigation, and control. FPGAs are perfect for creating complicated robotic and drone systems since they have tremendous performance capabilities and consume less power.

Home Automation:

Applications for home automation use lattice FPGAs to interpret sensor data, manage connected devices, and develop voice assistants. FPGAs are the best choice for building power-efficient home automation systems because of their excellent performance capabilities and low power consumption.

Wearable Devices:

In wearable technology, lattice FPGAs are suitable for battery management, user interface control, and sensor data processing. In addition, FPGAs are perfect for building wearable technology that can run continuously for a long time because they have excellent performance capabilities and use little power.




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