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To realize high performance, embedded applications are deployed on multiprocessor platforms tailored for an application domain. However, when a suitable platform is not available, only few application niches can justify the increasing costs of an IC product design. An alternative is to design the multiprocessor on an FPGA. This retains the programmability advantage, while obviating the risks in producing silicon. This also opens FPGAs to the world of software designers. In this paper, the authors demonstrate the feasibility of FPGA-based multiprocessors for high performance applications. They deploy IPv4 packet forwarding on a multiprocessor on the Xilinx Virtex-II Pro FPGA. The design achieves a 1.8 Gbps throughput and loses only 2.6X in performance (Normalized to area) compared to an implementation on the Intel IXP-2800 network processor.
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