Analysis and optimization of a deeply pipelined FPGA soft processor
Cheah, Hui Yan
Fahmy, Suhaib A.
Date of Issue2014
2014 International Conference on Field-Programmable Technology (FPT)
School of Computer Engineering
FPGA soft processors have been shown to achieve high frequency when designed around the specific capabilities of heterogenous resources on modern FPGAs. However, such performance comes at a cost of deep pipelines, which can result in a larger number of idle cycles when executing programs with long dependency chains in the instruction sequence. We perform a full design-space exploration of a DSP block based soft processor to examine the effect of pipeline depth on frequency, area, and program runtime, noting the significant number of NOPs required to resolve dependencies. We then explore the potential of a restricted data forwarding approach in improving runtime by significantly reducing NOP padding. The result is a processor that runs close to the fabric limit of 500MHz with a case for simple data forwarding.
Computer Science and Engineering
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