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FPGA I2C: What it is & Advantages

I2C, also written as I2C, is an Integrated Circuit (IC) embedded system design specially designed for use with applications requiring a higher clocking rate. The full name is Inter-Integrated Circuit.

Wikipedia affirms that FPGA I2C introduces a synchronous, multi-controller and serial communication bus. Its primary designations also include the attachment of low-speed peripherals Integrated Circuits (ICs) to both Microcontrollers (MCUs) and processors, especially those needed in the intra-board communications market.

The Communication Process

The communication model used by the FPGA I2C is to connect two multiple Integrated Circuits (ICs) using a bidirectional two-wire synchronous serial bus. The connecting points are the Serial Clock Line (SCL) and the Serial Data Line (SDA).

The SDA is a data line primarily used as the line for connecting the master and slave wires or ICs to enable the sending and receiving of data.

On the other hand, the Serial Clock Line (SCL) helps in the transmission or carriage of the clock signal from the initial point to where it is needed.

A Word about the Data Transmission

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The process of transmitting or transferring data on the FPGA I2C is via the bit-by-bit data transfer via the Serial Data Line (SDA).

Worthy of mention is that the synchronous design of the FPGA I2C permits for the use of a clock signal sharable between the master and the slave to transfer data in smaller bits.

The FPGA I2C Communication Protocol

This section is dedicated to explaining how the FPGA I2C communication protocol works. It starts with understanding the different concepts involved.

The basic concept is that the communication of the FPGA I2C involves the transmission or transfer of data in the form of messages. These messages are further broken down into data frames, which contain a binary address of the slave at the core. This is followed by the additional frames of data, each with distinct information being transported through the single wire of the SDA line.

With that being said, here are the additional information being relayed via each of the data frames (messages) transmitted via the SDA line.

1. Start and Stop Conditions

These are the two core conditions for regulating message or data frame transmission on a FPGA I2C.

The Start condition works by starting the data transmission from the point the master device switches the SDA line. The switching must be changed from the high volage setting to a low voltage and the Serial Clock Line (SCL) must be switched to low from high.

The master will only start the data or message transmission after the signals have been sent to the other slaves that the data transfer is incoming.

On the other hand, the Stop condition only works or becomes active after the Start condition stops transmitting information or data frames. Worthy of mention is that the Stop condition changes the SDA line and the SCL to the default settings, which is switching them from the low to high voltages before it is switched off.

2. Read/Write

This is a bit that oversees the data transmission instructions. It ensures that the accurate instructions programmed into the Start and Stop conditions are deployed. For example, the Read/Write single bit helps to specify if the master is writing or transferring data to the low voltage level (slave) or whether it is requesting the latter to read the data or make a switch from the high voltage to the low voltage.


This is a single bit that is received after the sending device must have made the right signals on the type of data transfer that is ongoing. The signal is to ascertain or confirm if the receiving device has gotten the data which is signified by the ACK bit or whether it didn’t receive the same, signified by the NACK bit.

4. Addressing

This is triggered because of the absence of data-related information. By default, the FPGA I2C doesn’t have the slave select lines, which could have helped find out if the right type of message (data frame) was relayed.

To that end, the Addressing data frame is use to find out or confirm the actual type of data sent. Also, the master devices will be able to send unique addresses to the receiving devices before the data or message transfer can be initiated.

The Addressing data frame will be able to discover the absence of the right signals through this process. If that happens, the data frame will be able to relay the information for real-time resolution.

Benefits of Using the FPGA I2C for Protocol-Level Communications

One of the unique benefits is that it simplifies the protocol-based communication process in FPGA configuration.

Here are the additional benefits of using the FPGA I2C for your short-distance intra-circuit-board communications:


The first flexible feature of the FPGA I2C is the ease of installing and removing it from the circuit boards or bus.

It also speeds up the communication process by supporting multiple peripherals, ranging from multi-slave communication and support for multiple master communication protocols.

Message Confirmation

The FPGA I2C helps you to confirm if the information being transferred via the SDA line has gotten to the receiving device. If it hasn’t, you may be able to use the Addresses or Addressing data frame to get real-time feedback on the data status.

Non-Complicated Design

The process of utilizing the FPGA I2C is not complicated. The use of a bidirectional signal line comprising the SDA and SCL helps to fast-track the message/data transmission without using higher peripherals.

Adaptable Design

The FPGA I2C can be used across different intra-board communication protocols because it has been configured to adapt to the needs of the different slave devices. It also works well for the slow and fast Integrated Circuits (ICs).

Downsides to Using the FPGA I2C

The FPGA I2C also has its problems. Some of the potential downsides or disadvantages to using it are:

  • The intra-board communication can become complicated, as more devices are loaded unto the bus.
  • Since the FPGA I2C uses pull-up resistors, the speed can be slower, especially when compared to the SPI.


Despite the flaws, the FPGA I2C can be an excellent intra-board communication tool, helping you transfer data frames from one or more masters to several slaves in the shortest time possible.



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