We present Synchroscalar, a tile-based architecture for embedded processing that is designed to provide the flexibility of DSPs while approaching the power efficiency of ASICs. We achieve this goal by providing high parallelism and voltage scaling while minimizing control and communication costs. Specifically, Synchroscalar uses columns of processor tiles organized into statically-assigned frequency-voltage domains to minimize power consumption. Furthermore, while columns use SIMD control to minimize overhead, data-dependent computations can be supported by extremely flexible statically-scheduled communication between columns. We provide a detailed evaluation of Synchroscalar including SPICE simulation, wire and device models, synthesis of key components, cycle-level simulation, and compiler- and hand-optimized signal processing applications. We find that the goal of meeting, not exceeding, performance targets with data-parallel applications leads to designs that depart significantly from our intuitions derived from general-purpose microprocessor design. In particular, synchronous design and substantial global interconnect are desirable in the low-frequency, low-power domain. This global interconnect supports parallelization and reduces processor idle time, which are critical to energy efficient implementations of high bandwidth signal processing. Overall, Synchroscalar provides programmability while achieving power efficiencies within 8-30× of known ASIC implementations, which is 10-60× better than conventional DSPs. In addition, frequency-voltage scaling in Synchroscalar provides between 3-32% power savings in our application suite.


Electrical and Computer Engineering

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