Study of heterogeneous and reconfigurable architectures in the communication domain
Advances in Radio Science
One of the most challenging design issues for next generations of (mobile) communication systems is fulfilling the computational demands while finding an appropriate trade-off between flexibility and implementation aspects, especially power consumption. Flexibility of modern architectures is desirable, e.g. concerning adaptation to new standards and reduction of time-to-market of a new product. Typical target architectures for future communication systems include embedded FPGAs, dedicated
... as well as programmable digital signal and control oriented processor cores as each of these has its specific advantages. These will be integrated as a System-on-Chip (SoC). For such a heterogeneous architecture a design space exploration and an appropriate partitioning plays a crucial role. On the exemplary vehicle of a Viterbi decoder as frequently used in communication systems we show which costs in terms of ATE complexity arise implementing typical components on different types of architecture blocks. A factor of about seven orders of magnitude spans between a physically optimised implementation and an implementation on a programmable DSP kernel. An implementation on an embedded FPGA kernel is in between these two representing an attractive compromise with high flexibility and low power consumption. Extending this comparison to further components, it is shown quantitatively that the cost ratio between different implementation alternatives is closely related to the operation to be performed. This information is essential for the appropriate partitioning of heterogeneous systems.