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Using Custom Accelerators in Wireless Systems Alex Papakonstantinou, Deming Chen. Illinois Center for Wireless Systems. Typical Design Practice & Design Paradigm Shift. Wireless SoC Design Trends and Challenges.

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Using Custom Accelerators in Wireless Systems

Alex Papakonstantinou, Deming Chen

Illinois Center for

Wireless Systems

Typical Design Practice & Design Paradigm Shift

Wireless SoC Design Trends and Challenges

  • Shrinking transistor technologies have transformed die into a host of extraordinary size and complexity systems
    • All the analog and digital components that were implemented in 3-4 different ICs in past technologies, can now fit in a single chip
  • Designer Productivity does not rise at the same rate as transistor capacity
    • Design reuse and use of Commercial Off-The-Self (COTS) Intellectual Property (IP) help meet Time-To-Market (TTM) constraints but have other downsides
  • Design space exploration is becoming a daunting task and conflicts with the shrinking TTM requirements
  • System customization suffers in terms of functionality/ performance/power/area from “one system fits all” tactic
  • Design focus is shifting from single thread speed optimization to execution parallelization through multi-processor systems
  • COTS IP modules are integrated to meet the required system functionality
    • Usually a generic microprocessor/micro-controller is used for the control part and a separate DSP processor for the signal processing part
    • Fixed-functionality IP modules are integrated for the various data processing
  • IP-use speeds up the design phase but:
    • imposes coarse granularity on optimization decisions regarding functionality, performance and power dissipation
    • does not eliminate design time entirely, as interfacing between different IP modules can take up considerable engineering resources
  • Design Paradigm needs a shift to higher abstraction level
    • Design systems efficiently with higher flexibility and on-demand customization

EPOS (Explicitly Parallel Operations System)

  • The EPOS accelerators generated can substitute the generic COTS IP by:
    • Offering high customization according to the system requirements
    • Providing better performance and power efficiency than a generic DSP-core/microprocessor
  • Instruction-Level Parallelism (ILP) extraction:
    • The front-end of the IMPACT compiler is used to optimize the HLL description using:
      • Traditional compiler techniques
      • Superblock and Hyperblock creation
  • Instruction-less custom processor / accelerator:
    • Microcode memory stores microcode words which control Functional-Units (FU) and data transfers each cycle
    • Program Counter (PC) holds next microcode memory address
    • Microcode words do not require any decoding
    • FUs customized according to application domain
    • Application-custom forwarding paths between FUs can eliminate unnecessary Register File (RF) reads/writes

EPOS Performance Results

EPOS – based Wireless SoC Solution

  • EPOS Configuration used:
    • 4xALU
    • 1xMUL
    • 1xST-Port
    • 1xLD-Port
  • FU Latencies:
    • ALU: 1
    • MUL: 3
    • LD: 4
    • ST: 1
  • Each module is mapped directly onto a customized EPOS accelerator
  • The interfaces between the EPOS accelerators, as well as, between other IP and EPOS modules are defined in the HLL program and automatically synthesized along with the EPOS datapaths
  • Exploration of alternative system implementations becomes efficient and extremely fast
  • Each EPOS processor can be re-programmed within the system to execute optimized/modified versions of its original functionality