Three Paradigms for Programming FPGAs - 2022.2 English

Vitis High-Level Synthesis User Guide (UG1399)

Document ID
Release Date
2022.2 English

While FPGAs can be programmed using lower-level Hardware Description Languages (HDLs) such as Verilog or VHDL, there are now several High-Level Synthesis (HLS) tools that can take an algorithmic description written in a higher-level language like C/C++ and convert it into lower-level hardware description languages such as Verilog or VHDL. This can then be processed by downstream tools to program the FPGA device.

The main benefit of this type of flow is that you can retain the advantages of the programming language like C/C++ to write efficient code that can then be translated into hardware. Additionally, writing good code is the software designer's forte and is easier than learning a new hardware description language. However, achieving acceptable quality of results (QoR), will require additional work such as rewriting the software to help the HLS tool achieve the desired performance goals. The next few sections will discuss how you can first identify some macro-level architectural optimizations to structure your program and then focus on some fine-grained micro-level architectural optimizations to boost your performance goals.