Tampere University of Technology

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Power and Energy Aware Heterogeneous Computing Platform

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesis


Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University of Technology
Number of pages84
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-15-4259-6
ISBN (Print)978-952-15-4253-4
StatePublished - 20 Nov 2018
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University of Technology. Publication
ISSN (Print)1459-2045


During the last decade, wireless technologies have experienced significant development, most notably in the form of mobile cellular radio evolution from GSM to UMTS/HSPA and thereon to Long-Term Evolution (LTE) for increasing the capacity and speed of wireless data networks. Considering the real-time constraints of the new wireless standards and their demands for parallel processing, reconfigurable architectures and in particular, multicore platforms are part of the most successful platforms due to providing high computational parallelism and throughput. In addition to that, by moving toward Internet-of-Things (IoT), the number of wireless sensors and IP-based high throughput network routers is growing at a rapid pace. Despite all the progression in IoT, due to power and energy consumption, a single chip platform for providing multiple communication standards and a large processing bandwidth is still missing.
The strong demand for performing different sets of operations by the embedded systems and increasing the computational performance has led to the use of heterogeneous multicore architectures with the help of accelerators for computationally-intensive data-parallel tasks acting as coprocessors. Currently, highly heterogeneous systems are the most power-area efficient solution for performing complex signal processing systems. Additionally, the importance of IoT has increased significantly the need for heterogeneous and reconfigurable platforms.

On the other hand, subsequent to the breakdown of the Dennardian scaling and due to the enormous heat dissipation, the performance of a single chip was obstructed by the utilization wall since all cores cannot be clocked at their maximum operating frequency. Therefore, a thermal melt-down might be happened as a result of high instantaneous power dissipation. In this context, a large fraction of the chip, which is switched-off (Dark) or operated at a very low frequency (Dim) is called Dark Silicon. The Dark Silicon issue is a constraint for the performance of computers, especially when the up-coming IoT scenario will demand a very high performance level with high energy efficiency. Among the suggested solution to combat the problem of Dark-Silicon, the use of application-specific accelerators and in particular Coarse-Grained Reconfigurable Arrays (CGRAs) are the main motivation of this thesis work.

This thesis deals with design and implementation of Software Defined Radio (SDR) as well as High Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC) application-specific accelerators for computationally intensive kernels and data-parallel tasks. One of the most important data transmission schemes in SDR due to its ability of providing high data rates is Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM). This research work focuses on the evaluation of Heterogeneous Accelerator-Rich Platform (HARP) by implementing OFDM receiver blocks as designs for proof-of-concept. The HARP template allows the designer to instantiate a heterogeneous reconfigurable platform with a very large amount of custom-tailored computational resources while delivering a high performance in terms of many high-level metrics. The availability of this platform lays an excellent foundation to investigate techniques and methods to replace the Dark or Dim part of chip with high-performance silicon dissipating very low power and energy. Furthermore, this research work is also addressing the power and energy issues of the embedded computing systems by tailoring the HARP for self-aware and energy-aware computing models. In this context, the instantaneous power dissipation and therefore the heat dissipation of HARP are mitigated on FPGA/ASIC by using Dynamic Voltage and Frequency Scaling (DVFS) to minimize the dark/dim part of the chip. Upgraded HARP for self-aware and energy-aware computing can be utilized as an energy-efficient general-purpose transceiver platform that is cognitive to many radio standards and can provide high throughput while consuming as little energy as possible. The evaluation of HARP has shown promising results, which makes it a suitable platform for avoiding Dark Silicon in embedded computing platforms and also for diverse needs of IoT communications.

In this thesis, the author designed the blocks of OFDM receiver by crafting templatebased CGRA devices and then attached them to HARP’s Network-on-Chip (NoC) nodes. The performance of application-specific accelerators generated from templatebased CGRAs, the performance of the entire platform subsequent to integrating the CGRA nodes on HARP and the NoC traffic are recorded in terms of several highlevel performance metrics. In evaluating HARP on FPGA prototype, it delivers a performance of 0.012 GOPS/mW. Because of the scalability and regularity in HARP, the author considered its value as architectural constant. In addition to showing the gain and the benefits of maximizing the number of reconfigurable processing resources on a platform in comparison to the scaled performance of several state-of-the-art platforms, HARP’s architectural constant ensures application-independent figure of merit. HARP is further evaluated by implementing various sizes of Discrete Cosine transform (DCT) and Discrete Sine Transform (DST) dedicated for HEVC standard, which showed its ability to sustain Full HD 1080p format at 30 fps on FPGA. The author also integrated self-aware computing model in HARP to mitigate the power dissipation of an OFDM receiver. In the case of FPGA implementation, the total power dissipation of the platform showed 16.8% reduction due to employing the Feedback Control System (FCS) technique with Dynamic Frequency Scaling (DFS). Furthermore, by moving to ASIC technology and scaling both frequency and voltage simultaneously, significant dynamic power reduction (up to 82.98%) was achieved, which proved the DFS/DVFS techniques as one step forward to mitigate the Dark Silicon issue.

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