Intel® Quartus® Prime Standard Edition User Guide: Power Analysis and Optimization

ID 683506
Date 12/07/2020
Document Table of Contents Power-Aware Memory Balancing

Power-aware memory balancing chooses the best configuration for a memory implementation and provides optimal power saving by determining the required number of memory blocks, decoder, and multiplexer circuits. When the design does not specify target-embedded memory blocks for the design’s memory functions, the power-aware balancer automatically selects them during memory implementation.

The Compiler includes this optimization technique when the Power Optimization During Synthesis logic option is set to Extra effort.

The following figure is an example of a 4k × 4 (4k deep and 4 bits wide) memory implementation in two different configurations using M4K memory blocks available in some Stratix® devices.

Figure 16. 4K × 4 Memory Implementation Using Multiple M4K Blocks

The minimum logic area implementation configures M4K blocks as 4k × 1. The Intel® Quartus® Prime software uses this implementation as the default, because the resulting design has the minimum logic area (0 logic cells) and the highest speed. However, all four M4K blocks are active on each memory access, which increases RAM power.

The minimum RAM power implementation configures four M4K blocks as 1k × 4 for optimal power saving. The RAM IP core includes an address decoder to select which of the four M4K blocks is active on a given cycle, based on the state of the top two user address bits. The RAM IP core implements a multiplexer to feed the downstream logic by choosing the appropriate M4K output. This implementation reduces RAM power because only one M4K block is active on any cycle, but it requires extra logic cells, costing logic area and potentially impacting design performance.

There is a trade-off between power saved by accessing fewer memories and power consumed by the extra decoder and multiplexor logic. The Intel® Quartus® Prime software automatically balances the power savings against the costs to choose the lowest power configuration for each logical RAM. The benchmark data shows that the power-driven synthesis can reduce memory power consumption by as much as 60% in Stratix® devices.

You can also set the MAXIMUM_DEPTH parameter manually to configure the memory for low power optimization. This technique is the same as the power-aware memory balancer, but it is manual rather than automatic like the Extra effort setting in the Power optimization list. The MAXIMUM_DEPTH parameter always takes precedence over the Optimize Power for Synthesis options for power optimization on memory optimization. You can set the MAXIMUM_DEPTH parameter for memory modules manually in the Intel® FPGA IP instantiation or in the IP Catalog.

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