Infoscience

Book Chapter

Embryonics: A New Family of Coarse-Grained Field-Programmable Gate Array with Self-Repair and Self-Reproducing Properties

The growth and the operation of all living beings are directed through the intepretation, in each of their cells, of a chemical program, the DNA. This program, called genome, is the blueprint of the organism and consists of a sequence of four discrete characters: A, C, G, and T. This process is the source of inspiration for the Embryonics (embryological electronics) project, whose final objective is the conception of very large scale integrated circuits endowed with properties usually associated with the living world: self-repair (cicatrization) and self-reproduction. Within this framework, we will present a new family of coarse-grained field-programmable gate arrays. Each cell is a binary decision machine whose microprogram represents the genome, and each part of the microprogram is a gene whose execution depends on the physical position of the cell in the array, i.e. on its coordinates. The considerable redundancy introduced by the presence of a genome in each cell has significant advantages: self-reproduction (the automatic production of one or more copies of the original organism) and self-repair (the automatic repair of one or more faulty cells) become relatively simple operations. Even if the described system seems exceedingly complex, we believe that computer architectures inspired by molecular biology will allow the development of new FPGAs endowed with quasi-biological properties extremely useful in environments where human intervention is necessarily limited (nuclear plants, space applications, etc.).

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