Bespoke Processors for Applications with Ultra-low Area and Power Constraints

Hari Cherupalli, Henry Duwe, Weidong Ye, Rakesh Kumar, John Sartori
2017 SIGARCH Computer Architecture News  
A large number of emerging applications such as implantables, wearables, printed electronics, and IoT have ultra-low area and power constraints. These applications rely on ultra-low-power general purpose microcontrollers and microprocessors, making them the most abundant type of processor produced and used today. While general purpose processors have several advantages, such as amortized development cost across many applications, they are significantly over-provisioned for many area-and
more » ... nstrained systems, which tend to run only one or a small number of applications over their lifetime. In this paper, we make a case for bespoke processor design, an automated approach that tailors a general purpose processor IP to a target application by removing all gates from the design that can never be used by the application. Since removed gates are never used by an application, bespoke processors can achieve significantly lower area and power than their general purpose counterparts without any performance degradation. Also, gate removal can expose additional timing slack that can be exploited to increase area and power savings or performance of a bespoke design. Bespoke processor design reduces area and power by 62% and 50%, on average, while exploiting exposed timing slack improves average power savings to 65%.
doi:10.1145/3140659.3080247 fatcat:ont7xlw3cncsvlhs22x62lxihy