Using Custom Accelerators in Wireless Systems
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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