Design Space Exploration for an Embedded Processor with Flexible Datapath Interconnect
Paper in proceedings, 2010
The design of an embedded processor is dependent on the application domain. Traditionally, design solutions specific to an application domain have been available in three forms: VLIW-based DSP processors, ASICs and FPGAs; each respectively offering generality of application domain, energy efficiency and flexibility. However, while matching the application domain to the resources needed, the design space becomes huge. We present FlexTools, a tool framework built around the FlexCore architecture to evaluate performance and energy efficiency for different applications. Here we demonstrate FlexTools for design space exploration with a focus on the data-routing flexibility of the FlexCore processor, in search of energy-efficient interconnect configurations that are both cycle-count and hardware efficient. Evaluation results suggest that a well-optimized instance of a 65nm multiplier-extended FlexCore processor datapath, obtained using FlexTools, executes nine integer EEMBC benchmarks with a 15% cycle count reduction and dissipates 17% less energy than a reference MIPS datapath. © 2010 IEEE.