Activity-based Power Estimation and Characterization of DSP and Multiplier Blocks in FPGAs by Nathalie Chan King Choy B.A.Sc, University of Toronto, 2004 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF APPLIED SCIENCE in The Faculty of Graduate Studies (Electrical and Computer Engineering) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 2006 © Nathalie Chan King Choy, 2006 11 Abstract Battery-powered applications and the scaling of process technologies and clock frequencies have made power dissipation a first class concern among FPGA vendors. One approach to reduce power dissipation in FPGAs is to embed coarse-grained fixed-function blocks that implement certain types of functions very efficiently. Commercial FPGAs contain embedded multipliers and "Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks" to improve the per formance and area efficiency of arithmetic-intensive applications. In order to evaluate the power saved by using these blocks, a power model and tool flow are required. This thesis describes our development and evaluation of methods to estimate the ac tivity and the power dissipation of FPGA circuits containing embedded multiplier and DSP blocks. Our goal was to find a suitable balance between estimation time, modeling effort, and accuracy. We incorporated our findings to create a power model and CAD tool flow for these circuits. Our tool flow builds upon the Poon power model, and the Versa tile Place and Route (VPR) CAD tool, which are both standard academic experimental infrastructure. iii Table of Contents Abstract ii Table of Contents iiList of Tables vList of Figures vii Acknowledgements ix 1 Introduction 1 1.1 Motivation1.2 Research Goals 4 1.3 Research Approach 5 1.4 Organization of Thesis 7 2 Background and Previous Work 8 2.1 FPGA Architectures2.1.1 Island-style Architectures 9 2.1.2 Enhanced LUT Architectures and Carry Chains 13 2.1.3 Platform-style Architectures 15 2.2 FPGA CAD Flow 19 2.3 Power 21 2.4 Power Estimation 22 2.4.1 Simulation-based vs. Probabilistic 24 2.4.2 Techniques: Circuit-level 25 2.4.3 Techniques: Gate-level2.4.4 Techniques: RT-level . ' . . 30 2.4.5 FPGA-specific Power Estimation Tools 32 2.5 Focus and Contribution of Thesis 34 Table of Contents iv 3 Framework 36 .3.1 Overall Flow3.2 Versatile Place and Route (VPR) 38 3.2.1 Architectural Assumptions3.2.2 T-VPack 39 3.2.3 Placement and Routing Engine 33.2.4 Architectural Flexibility 40 3.3 Poon Power Model 43.3.1 Architectural Assumptions3.3.2 Activity Estimation 1 3.3.3 Power Estimation 43 3.3.4 Architectural Flexibility . 44 3.4 DSP Block Power Model and Tool Flow3.4.1 Requirements 45 3.4.2 Extending PVPR Flow 43.5 Chapter Summary .• • • 46 4 Activity Estimation 48 4.1 Motivation for developing Activity Estimation Techniques 44.2 Techniques for Activity Estimation of an Embedded Block 9 4.2.1 Gate-Level Technique 44.2.2 Independent Output Technique 51 4.3 Methodology and Results for Activity Estimation 53 4.3.1 Output Nodes of DSP Block . . 54 4.3.2 Downstream Nodes of DSP Block 8 4.4 Conclusions for Activity Estimation 60 4.5 Chapter Summary 61 5 Power Estimation 3 5.1 Techniques for Power Estimation 65.1.1 Objectives 65.1.2 The Constant Technique 4 5.1.3 The Lookup Technique 65.1.4 The PinCap Technique 5 5.2 Methodology for Power Characterization 66 5.2.1 Constant Technique 67 5.2.2 Lookup TechniqueTable of Contents v 5.2.3 PinCap Technique 67 5.3 Evaluation 68 5.4 Conclusions for Power Estimation 71 5.5 Chapter Summary 72 6 Power Estimation Tool Flow 73 6.1 Overall Flow6.1.1 Functionality6.1.2 Modifications to PVPR 75 6.2 Flow Demonstration and Comparison to Gate-Level Simulation 76 6.2.1 Motivation 76.2.2 Terminology 7 6.2.3 Methodology 8 6.2.4 Results 82 6.3 Chapter Summary 4 7 Conclusion 6 7.1 Summary and Contributions 87.2 Future Work 87 7.2.1 Benchmarks : 88 7.2.2 Glitch Characterization 89 7.2.3 Board-Level VerificationBibliography 91 A ditching Characterization Attempt 95 B Detailed Results from Comparison 8 vi List of Tables 6.1 Parameters added to the PVPR Architecture File Format 76 6.2 VPR Power Analysis Results - . 83 6.3 Overall Percentage Error for FIR Filter Results 84 6.4 Overall Percentage Error for Differential Equation Solver Results 84 B.l FIR Filter Results for 0.25 Average Input Activity 98 B.2 FIR Filter Results for 0.50 Average Input Activity 9 B.3 FIR Filter Results for 0.75 Average Input Activity . 100 B.4 Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.25 Average Input Activity .... 101 B.5 Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.50 Average Input Activity .... 102 B.6 Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.75 Average Input Activity .... 103 List of Figures 1.1 18-bit x 18-bit multipliers combined for 36-bit x 36-bit multiplier 2 2.1 Island-style Architecture (from [1]) 9 2.2 2-input LUT (from [2]) 10 2.3 LUT with Flip-flop (from [2])2.4 Cluster-based logic block 1 2.5 Programmable Switches 13 2.6 Carry Chain Connections to a 4-LUT 15 2.7 Multi-bit Logic Block (from [3]) 8 2.8 Steps in the FPGA CAD Flow 19 2.9 Abstraction Levels for Power Analysis (from [4]) 23 3.1 Overall CAD Flow (from [5]) 37 3.2 CAD Flow Enhanced to Support DSP Block Power Estimation 46 4.1 Gate-Level Technique 49 4.2 Independent Output Technique 51 4.3 Output Pin Activities for Unregistered Multiplier 54 4.4 Output Pin Activities for Registered Multiplier 5 4.5 Output Pin Activities for Unregistered DSP Block 56 4.6 Output Pin Activities for Registered DSP Block4.7 18-bit x 18-bit Multipliers Combined for 36-bit x 36-bit Multiplier 57 ' 4.8 FIR Filter Used for Activity Experiments 58 4.9 Activity Results for the FIR Filter 9 4.10 Activity Results for the Converter 60 5.1 Methodology for Power Estimation Experiments 66 5.2 Power Estimation Experimental Methodology 8 5.3 Power Estimation Experiment Results 69 5.4 Power Estimation Experiment Results 70 6.1 Power Estimation Tool Flow . . '. 4 List of Figures viii 6.2 Terminology 77 6.3 fir.3_8.8: FIR Filter Circuit 78 6.4 Differential Equation Solver Circuit 79 6.5 18-bit x 18-bit multipliers combined for 36-bit x 36-bit multiplier 80 6.6 Simulation Flow Pseudocode 81 6.7 Flow for Determining Simulation Power Estimate of Each DSP Block Instance 82 A.l Power Characterization Flow 96 A.2 Testbench Pseudocodeix Acknowledgements I would like to thank my supervisor, Professor Steve Wilton, for teaching me so much these last two years and for providing many opportunities to interact with the FPGA community and to gain valuable teaching experience. I would like to thank everyone in the Socwilton, Soclemieux, and other System-on-Chip groups for their ideas, advice, and good company. Peter Jamieson (from the University of Toronto), Brad, Dipanjan, Julien, and Victor were incredibly helpful when I was getting started with all the tools. Roozbeh and Roberto were also great resources. I am grateful to Altera and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for funding my project and to my defense committee for volunteering their time. Thank you to Scott and Lesley for your emotional support during the academic rough patches and for knowing exactly what I was going through. Also thank you to Steph and Jess for your emotional support and encouragement during the non-academic rough patches, the roommate antics, and the entertaining adventures. Finally, I would like to dedicate this work .to my family, friends, and my dragon boat family (Swordfish, Roli, and UC Water Dragons crews) who kept me sane through a very intense last two years. Chapter 1. Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Introduction 1.1 Motivation Power dissipation has become increasingly important in the electronics industry. There are two reasons for this: 1. There is a growing number of portable electronic applications, which have battery life constraints 2. Process technologies in the nanometer scale and clock frequencies in the gigahertz range result in very hot chips and increased cooling costs. These issues are relevant to both Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) and to Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). With increasing mask costs for ASICs, FPGAs have become an attractive implementation alternative for low and medium volume production. However, FPGAs lag behind ASICs significantly in their power efficiency. The additional transistors required for programmability result in higher power dissipation per function. Leakage power is also dissipated in both the used and unused parts of FPGAs, and most commercial FPGAs do not have a sleep mode to reduce power in unused parts (The Actel IGLOO flash-based FPGA is an exception [6]). Chapter 1. Introduction 2 Figure 1.1: 18-bit x 18-bit multipliers combined for 36-bit x 36-bit multiplier Over the past few years, significant advances have been made at the circuit level [7] [8], architecture level [9], and CAD tool level [10] [11] [12]. Still, current FPGAs have been found to be, on average, 12 times less power efficient than ASICs [13]. A basic FPGA is composed of programmable logic elements (called Look-up Tables or LUTs), wire segments, and programmable connections/switches that are typically laid out in a regular pattern. The LUTs in FPGAs typically have 4 to 6 inputs and can implement any boolean function of these inputs. By configuring each LUT and connecting them together using the programmable interconnect, users can implement virtually any digital circuit. To reduce area and improve circuit speed, larger logic blocks are used (typically composed of a collection of 4-10 LUTs); they are called clusters. Chapter 1. Introduction 3 One promising approach to reducing power in FPGAs at the architectural-level is to embed coarse-grained fixed-function blocks that implement certain types of functions very efficiently. Commercial FPGAs contain embedded multipliers and embedded "Dig ital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks" to improve the performance and area efficiency of arithmetic-intensive applications, such as DSP applications [14] [15] [16] [17]. A simplified example of a DSP block is shown in Figure 1.1; in this diagram, four 18xl8-bit multipli ers are programmably connected to create a 36x36-bit multiplier, with optional registers at the multiplier inputs, outputs, and adder stage outputs. Other examples of DSP block configurations are adder/subtractors, multiply-accumulators, and multiply-adders. Arithmetic-intensive applications can be implemented in LUTs, but even if LUTs are en hanced with dedicated interconnect for fast carry chains [18] and arithmetic chains [15], significant performance, density, and power improvements can be obtained by implement ing the arithmetic parts of the applications in the embedded blocks [19]. Reference [20] found that an average area savings of 55% and an average increase in clock rate of 40.7% could be obtained for floating point applications by embedding floating point DSP blocks. There are several disadvantages of including DSP blocks in an FPGA fabric. If the blocks are not used (1) the area is wasted, and (2) the blocks will still dissipate leakage power. This makes it important to try to optimize the size and quantity of embedded resources included. However, it is difficult to determine what proportion of the FPGA area should be devoted to embedded blocks because it is difficult to determine what typical usage is for a device that can implement almost any digital circuit. Chapter 1. Introduction 4 In order to meaningfully evaluate the power savings that can be obtained by using these blocks, an experimental flow that can estimate the power dissipated by FPGAs containing embedded DSP blocks is required. Commercial tools from FPGA vendors provide power estimation that includes these blocks; however, these tools are tailored for specific devices, and do not provide the flexibility needed to investigate alternative embedded block architectures. The Versatile Place and Route (VPR) tool suite [21] with the Poon power model [22] has become standard experimental infrastructure to study FPGA architecture, CAD, and power issues (we will refer to the combination of VPR and the Poon power model as PVPR). The estimates from the power model can be used by FPGA architects to evaluate architectures for power efficiency, by FPGA users to make power-aware design decisions, and by FPGA CAD tool developers to create power-aware CAD algorithms. However, PVPR only supports homogeneous FPGA architectures containing LUTs and a routing fabric, and thus is not sufficient to examine architectures containing embedded DSP blocks. 1.2 Research Goals The objective of this research is to create an enhanced FPGA CAD flow that can be used to evaluate the power dissipation of FPGAs containing embedded DSP and arithmetic blocks. We have imposed the following requirements: • As PVPR is standard experimental infrastructure for academic FPGA architecture, CAD, and power studies, our power estimation of the DSP and multiplier blocks Chapter 1. Introduction 5 must be compatible with the PVPR flow. • As PVPR results are frequently used to perform architectural evaluations, our power estimation must be fast, to facilitate iterations over tens or hundreds of architectural alternatives and benchmark circuits. • To facilitate iterations over many architectural alternatives, our method should aim to minimize the modeling effort required when introducing a new architecture for evaluation. • In order for the power estimates to be meaningful, our method should aim to be as accurate as possible, within the constraints imposed by the previous requirements. Fast power estimation techniques make use of average quantities, such as probabil ities, to reduce runtime. Details are lost during this averaging, resulting in a runtime versus accuracy tradeoff. Similarly, reducing characterization effort typically results in the capturing of fewer details, again resulting in an effort versus accuracy tradeoff. As the requirements that we have set for our flow involve both fast estimation and low charac terization effort, we expect that we will be sacrificing some accuracy. Therefore, we must find a suitable balance between speed, characterization effort, and accuracy. .1.3 Research Approach As will be explained in Chapter 2, power estimation involves two steps: (1) activity estimation, and (2) power estimation using the activities. Chapter 1. Introduction 6 Dynamic power dissipation is proportional to how often nodes in a circuit switch values (from logic-0 to logic-1, or logic-1 to logic-0). Activity estimation is the calculation of how much switching is expected at each node in the circuit. In implementing the activity estimation for FPGA architectures containing embedded DSP blocks, we came across the following challenge: it is not clear how to propagate activity calculations through a DSP block. Traditional activity estimation techniques propagate activities through small gates (LUTs) using transition probability or transition density models [23]; however, these approaches do not scale well to embedded blocks with tens (or even hundreds) of inputs. The next step is to estimate the power dissipated by the FPGA implementing a user's circuit. In implementing algorithms to perform this estimation, we identified the following challenge: once the pin activities of each embedded DSP block are known, it is still not clear how to use them to estimate the power dissipated by the embedded DSP block. There are many possibilities, each providing a different trade-off between power estimation time, modeling effort when a new block is to be investigated, and accuracy. The second technical challenge is to choose a power estimation technique that provides the best balance between these factors. In this thesis we treat each of these two challenges as a separate problem. For each problem, we develop and evaluate solutions. Then, we use the best of our solutions to each problem to create our experimental CAD flow for evaluating FPGA architectures containing DSP blocks. Chapter 1. Introduction 7 1.4 Organization of Thesis This thesis is organized as follows. Chapter 2 provides an overview of FPGA architectures, the FPGA CAD flow, power, and power estimation. It also describes previous work related to power estimation. Chapter 3 describes the existing PVPR CAD flow and how our DSP and arithmetic block power model fits into this framework. Chapter 4 describes our solutions and their evaluation for the problem of activity estimation. Chapter 5 describes our solutions and their evaluation for the problem of power estimation. Chapter 6 describes how we integrated our solutions from Chapters 4 and 5 to create a Power Estimation Tool Flow for evaluating FPGA architectures containing DSP blocks, presents results for two benchmark circuits, and compares the results to those obtained using gate-level simulation. Finally, Chapter 7 summarizes the conclusions and provides suggestions for future work. 8 Chapter 2 Background and Previous Work 2.1 FPGA Architectures The most basic building blocks of FPGAs are programmable logic blocks, wire segments, and programmable connections/switches that are typically laid out in a regular pattern. By programming basic functions into each block and connecting them together using the programmable interconnect, users can implement virtually any digital circuit. A number of architectures have been developed to optimize for criteria such as routabil ity, area efficiency, and timing. Architectures are frequently classified based on their rout ing architecture because most of the area in an FPGA is devoted to routing. Reference [1] lists the three main categories of commercial FPGA architectures that were available when that book was written: island-style, row-based, and hierarchical. Today, platform-style FPGAs are available, which include coarse-grained embedded components. This thesis will focus on FPGAs based on island-style architectures. Section 2.1.1 will introduce basic island-style architecture components, Section 2.1.2 will describe modern enhancements to the basic components, and Section 2.1.3 will describe platform-style FPGAs. The framework that we build upon is described in Chapter 3. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 9 Programmable routing switch Figure 2.1: Island-style Architecture (from [1]) 2.1.1 Island-style Architectures Figure 2.1 shows an island-style architecture, where programmable logic blocks are "is lands" in a "sea" of programmable routing fabric [5]. In the traditional island-style ar chitecture, the logic blocks are clusters of look-up tables (LUTs). The routing fabric is composed of wires, programmable connection blocks, and programmable switch blocks. Look-up Tables Look-up tables (LUTs) are the most basic elements for implementing logic in an FPGA. Figure 2.2 shows a 2-input LUT. A K-input LUT (K-LUT) is a memory with 2K bits, K Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 10 Inputs »> Inputs SRAM cells 0 0 0 1 00 01 10 11 Output Figure 2.2: 2-input LUT (from [2]) Select bit P 4-input LUT Clock D Flip-flop Figure 2.3: LUT with Flip-flop (from [2]) Output address inputs, and one output port. By setting the memory bits, this structure can be used to implement any combinational function of K inputs. Typical values for K are 4-6. To implement sequential logic, a LUT is typically paired with a flip-flop to form a Basic Logic Element (BLE), as shown in Figure 2.3. The output of the BLE is selected from either the registered or the un-registered version of the LUT output, depending on the select bit of the output multiplexer. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 11 Inputs Figure 2.4: Cluster-based logic block Cluster-based Logic Blocks The use of larger logic blocks helps to increase circuit speed and reduces circuit area and CAD tool processing time. Unfortunately, LUT complexity grows exponentially with the number of inputs. The use of cluster-based logic blocks addresses this problem. Clusters are typically composed of a number of BLEs, internal cluster routing, and possibly spe cialized internal cluster connections, such as carry chains. Within a cluster, BLE inputs are typically connected to the cluster inputs and BLE outputs by a multiplexer-based crossbar [2]. An example of a cluster-based logic block is shown in Figure 2.4. It has 8 inputs, contains 4 BLEs, and has 4 outputs. The LUT inputs can be connected to either the cluster inputs or the BLE outputs via the internal routing. By grouping BLEs that share signals, placement and routing processing time is reduced because the number of inter-block connections is reduced. This internal routing is also shorter and faster than Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 12 inter-block connections, reducing circuit delay. Routing Logic blocks are connected together and to I/O resources using a routing "fabric" that is composed of: • pre-fabricated metal tracks • programmable switch blocks • programmable connection blocks Figure 2.1 shows the components of the routing fabric. The tracks are arranged in channels, typically horizontally and vertically, to form a grid pattern. Wires run along these tracks. The connection blocks connect the wires to the inputs and outputs of logic blocks adjacent to the channel. The switch blocks connect the horizontal and vertical wires together to form longer wires and make turns. It should be noted that, although we consider the switch blocks and connection blocks as separate entities, they are often not separate in the FPGA circuit layout. The programmable switches in the switch blocks and connection blocks can be either buffered or unbuffered. Typically they are buffered to reduce delays in long connections; however, this increases routing area. Buffered switches can be either unidirectional or bidirectional. Modern FPGAs use unidirectional switches to get better delay optimization and a denser routing fabric [24]. Figure 2.5 shows examples of switches typically found in FPGAs: (a) unbuffered, (b) buffered unidirectional, and (c) buffered bidirectional. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 13 P (a) Unbuffered (b) Buffered unidirectional (c) Buffered bidirectional Figure 2.5: Programmable Switches The routing wires inside an FPGA can be categorized as either (a) segmented local routing for connections between logic blocks, or (b) dedicated routing for global networks, such as clocks or reset/preset lines. The local routing segments can span a single logic block or multiple blocks; typically, not all segments are of the same length. The dedicated routing tracks are designed to ensure low-skew transmission. Commercial FPGAs typically also include phase-locked loops (PLLs) and delay-locked loops (DLLs) for clock de-skew on these dedicated lines. They also may include clock multiplexers and clock management circuitry to reduce power consumption by disabling unused parts of the clock network [25]. 2.1.2 Enhanced LUT Architectures and Carry Chains Commercial FPGAs contain improvements to the basic clustered K-LUT and interconnect FPGAs described in Section 2.1.1. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 14 Adaptive Logic Module (ALM) The Altera Adaptive Logic Module (ALM) is a BLE that can implement a single function of six inputs or two functions that share four inputs [15]. It is based on research that found that 6-LUTs have better area-delay performance than the typical 4-LUT, but can result in wasted resources if many of the logic functions do not require six inputs. Configurable Logic Block (CLB) The Xilinx Virtex-5 CLB is a BLE based on a 6-LUT with two outputs so that it can either implement a single function of six inputs or two functions of five (out of the same six) inputs [26]. As with the ALM, it is based on research showing that 6-LUTs have better performance, but may waste resources. Carry chains Carry chains are dedicated connections between logic blocks that aid in the efficient imple mentation of arithmetic operations. They also can be used in the efficient implementation of logical operations, such as parity and comparison. Fast carry chains are important be cause the critical path for these operations is often through the carry. Figure 2.6 shows a simple carry chain architecture. Each 4-LUT in a BLE can be fractured to implement two 3-LUTs; this is sufficient to implement both the sum and carry, given two input bits (a and b) and a carry input. The carry out signal from one BLE would typically be connected to the carry in of an adjacent BLE using a fast dedicated connection. The Z input is used to break the carry chain before the first bit of Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 15 a b 2-LUT 2-LUT 2-LUT 2-LUT P Carry in -7-3-LUT *~T' 3-LUT Carry out Sum out Figure 2.6: Carry Chain Connections to a 4-LUT an addition. More complex carry schemes have been published. In [18], carry chains based on carry select, variable block, and Brent-Kung schemes are described; the Brent-Kung scheme is shown to be 3.8 times faster than the simple ripple carry adder in Figure 2.6. The selection of a carry scheme by the FPGA architect involves weighing the area cost of a faster more complex carry chain against the performance benefits, because they are only beneficial when used. Actel and Xilinx devices include support for carry-lookahead and Altera devices include support for carry select capabilities. 2.1.3 Platform-style Architectures With Moore's Law and the increase in the possible number of transistors on a die, FPGA manufacturers could afford to sacrifice some silicon area to application-specific circuits. In 2000, to increase the efficiency and density of designs containing components such as processors, large memories, and complex arithmetic circuits, FPGA manufacturers began to release Platform-style FPGAs containing dedicated circuitry for these parts. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 16 In the context of FPGAs, Intellectual Property (IP) cores are typically reusable circuit modules or high-level building blocks that can be combined to create a system. These cores can be soft or hard. Soft cores are implemented in LUTs and hard cores are implemented as embedded ASIC blocks in the FPGA. Platform FPGAs contain hard IP cores, such as processors, large memory blocks, fast multipliers, and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks. They also contain dedicated interconnect for fast communication between certain types of adjacent cores. DSP blocks To improve the density and address the performance requirements of DSP and other arithmetic-intensive applications, FPGA manufacturers typically include dedicated hard ware multipliers in their devices. Altera Cyclone II and Xilinx Virtex-II/-II Pro devices contain embedded 18xl8-bit multipliers, which can be split into 9x9-bit multipliers [27]. The Virtex-II/-II Pro devices are further optimized with direct connections to the Xilinx block RAM resources for fast access to input operands. Higher-end FPGAs include DSP blocks, which are more complex dedicated hardware blocks optimized for a wider range of DSP applications. Altera Stratix and Stratix II DSP blocks support pipelining, shift registers, and can be configured to implement 9x9-bit, 18xl8-bit, or 36x36-bit multipliers that can optionally feed a dedicated adder/subtractor or accumulator [15]. Xilinx Virtex-4 XtremeDSP slices contain a dedicated 18xl8-bit 2's complement signed multiplier, adder logic, 48-bit accumulator, and pipeline registers. They also have dedicated connections for cascading DSP slices, with an optional wire-shift, without having to use the slower Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 17 general routing fabric [27]. This inclusion of dedicated multipliers or DSP blocks to complement the general logic resources results in a heterogeneous FPGA architecture. Research has considered what could be gained from tuning FPGA architectures to specific application domains, in par ticular datapaths and DSP. The work in [28] and [3] is tuned for datapath (arithmetic) circuits. Datapath circuits are often composed of regularly structured components, called bit-slices. The authors propose a multi-bit logic block that uses configuration memory sharing to exploit this regularity and save area. In typically-sized cluster-based logic blocks (containing 4 to 10 BLEs), configuration SRAM cells consume 39% to 48% of the total cluster area. If each cluster is used to implement a single bit-slice of the datapath circuit and adjacent clusters are used to implement adjacent bit-slices, the configuration memory for corresponding BLEs in the adjacent slices can be shared. A multi-bit logic block is illustrated in Figure 2.7, indicating resources that can share configuration memory. The authors also propose bus-based connections to exploit this regularity to achieve 14% routing area reduction for implementing datapath circuits. A disadvantage of multi-bit architectures is that if implementation circuits require a different bit-width, some resources may be wasted. The work in [29] deliberately avoids creating a heterogeneous architecture because the authors found that DSP applications contain both arithmetic and random logic, but that a suitable ratio between arithmetic and random logic is difficult to determine. Instead they develop two "mixed-grain" logic blocks that are suitable for implementing both arith metic and random logic by looking at properties of arithmetic operations and properties Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 18 01 < 8 to 3 *C 3 C P ,BLE #1 I-BLE #N -BLE *1 BLE #1 BLE #N Cluster #1 J L Cluster #2 J L Cluster #3 Figure 2.7: Multi-bit Logic Block (from [3]) of the 4-LUT. Their logic blocks are coarse-grained: each block can implement up to 4-bit addition/subtraction, 4 bits of an array multiplier, a 4-bit 2:1 multiplexer, or wide Boolean functions. Each logic block can, alternatively, implement single output random logic functions like a normal LUT. Their architecture reduces configuration memory re quirements by a factor of four, which is good for embedded systems or those with dynamic reconfiguration. Compared to arithmetic-optimized FPGA architectures, it offers efficient support of a wider range of DSP applications that vary in the amount of random logic they contain. However, the cost of this flexibility is additional area overhead. If applications with very little arithmetic are implemented, further area penalties are incurred in the case of all of these architectures with specialized arithmetic support, because most of the arithmetic support logic is left unused. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 19 Behavioral Description Hii/i-L'wrl tVil-w.is Register Transfer Level (RTL) , Logic Synthesis [ Logic Optimizations! [ ' | Technology Mapping Netlist of Interconnected Cells T ^Physical Design ^ j Packing ['!: Placement |^,| Routing | * J Design for download Figure 2.8: Steps in the FPGA CAD Flow 2.2 FPGA CAD Flow In order to implement large designs on FPGAs, CAD tools are essential. They allow users to work at a high abstraction level, automating optimization and transformation to a low-level implementation. This section will give a brief overview of the steps in the FPGA CAD flow. Figure 2.8 illustrates the steps in the flow. The input to the top level of the FPGA CAD flow is a behavioral description, typically in the form of Hardware Description Language (HDL) code or a schematic that describes what the circuit does, with little or no reference to its structure. During high-level synthesis, an initial compilation of the design is done, some initial optimizations are performed, and functional units are scheduled and assigned to the oper ations required by the circuit [30]. The result of high-level synthesis is a Register Transfer Level (RTL) description of the design. An RTL description is typically written in HDL. RTL code is characterized by a straightforward flow of control, with subcircuits that are Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 20 connected together in a simple way [31]. During the optimization stage of logic synthesis, technology-independent optimizations are applied to the logic functions that the RTL describes; the result is a netlist of gates. During the technology mapping stage of logic synthesis, this netlist of gates is mapped to the set of cells that are available to build the functions. In the case of FPGAs, these cells are LUTs and flip-flops. The result is a structural netlist of interconnected LUTs and flip-flops. Physical design has three stages: (1) packing, (2) placement, and (3) routing. During the packing stage, the LUTs and flip-flops are packed into coarser-grained cluster-based logic blocks, with the goals of improving routability and optimizing circuit speed. Packing together BLEs that share signals minimizes the number of connections between logic blocks, thus enhancing routability. Packing together BLEs likely to be on the critical path makes connections between them go via the fast local interconnect, thus optimizing circuit speed. During the placement stage, the cluster-based blocks are assigned locations in the FPGA. Goals during placement are to minimize wiring by placing connected blocks close together, to enhance routability by balancing the wiring density across the FPGA, and to maximize circuit speed by putting blocks likely to be on the critical path close together. Finally during the routing stage, paths are found in the channels for the wires that connect the logic blocks. The result is typically refered to as the placed and routed design. At that point it could be converted to a bitstream for programming an FPGA. The widely used Versatile Place and Route (VPR) academic CAD tool for packing, Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 21 placement, and routing will be described in Chapter 3. 2.3 Power The formula for the instantaneous power dissipated at time t, p(t), is: Pit) = i(t) • Vdd (2.1) where Vdd is the supply voltage and i(t) is the instantaneous current drawn from the supply. To obtain the average power over a time interval, we replace the instantaneous current by the average current drawn over that interval in Equation 2.1. Knowing the peak instantaneous power is useful when sizing supply lines, whereas knowing the average power helps in the calculation of battery life and cooling requirements. In this work we focus on average power. Power dissipation can be broken down into dynamic and static components. Dynamic power is dissipated when a gate is switching; it is due to: (1) the charging and discharging of parasitic capacitances and (2) temporary short circuits between the high and low supply voltage lines. The average dynamic power of the gate is given by the equation P = 0.5 • aCVfj (2.2) where a is the activity of the gate, C is the parasitic capacitance of the gate, and / is the clock frequency. Static power is dissipated when the gate is not switching; it is due to leakage currents. Typically, in an FPGA, the majority of power dissipated is dynamic [22]. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 22 2.4 Power Estimation It is important to distinguish between power estimation and power measurement. Power measurement involves obtaining voltage and current values from a real physical apparatus. Power estimation involves predicting what the power dissipation would be, based on a number of assumptions. One reason for performing power estimation is that a physical apparatus is not always available. Another reason is that a wider range of designs can be considered and evaluated more quickly when we are not constrained to using physical implementations. Performing power estimates earlier in the design flow is desirable to help guide design decisions or identify problems in the design. Power estimation can take place at any stage in the FPGA CAD flow (Figure 2.8). The stages higher in the flow are at a higher abstraction level and do not involve imple mentation details. As we get lower in the flow, more physical details of the design have been determined. Performing power estimates at the lower stages in the flow will generally give more accurate estimates; however, it will take more computational resources to take into account these physical details. In our work, we will be performing estimates after placement and routing. Power estimation can be done at different abstraction levels, as shown in Figure 2.9. At each stage, we need the following types of information so that we can perform the power analysis: 1. activity estimates, so we can compute the dynamic power dissipation, 2. a description of what the design looks like - this can be either an architectural Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 23 Level of Abstraction System-level Algorithm-level |^onthrt:pf^circyit| Figure 2.9: Abstraction Levels for Power Analysis (from [4]) description or a netlist - so that we know what components are used and how they are connected, 3. models of these components and connections In a platform-style FPGA, the placed and routed netlist contains representations of circuit components at multiple levels of abstraction: LUTs, flip-flops, and wires are es sentially at the gate level, while DSP blocks and memories can be thought of as being RTL components, and hard processors can be thought of as being system-level compo nents. For this work, we are interested in the lower three abstraction levels in Figure 2.9: circuit-level, gate-level, and RTL. In the following subsections, we will first describe two categories into which power estimation techniques can be classified. Then we will describe a number of existing techniques at the three lower abstraction levels. Finally we Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 24 will describe some FPGA-specific power estimation tools. 2.4.1 Simulation-based vs. Probabilistic Power estimation techniques can be divided into two categories: (1) simulation-based and (2) probabilistic. Simulation-based techniques simulate the circuit to gather data about the switching of circuit nodes or even determine the waveform of the current being drawn. However, simulation-based techniques require complete and specific information about the input signals. The accuracy of the simulation results is dependent on how realistic the in puts are. Consequently, reference [23] calls simulation-based power estimation techniques strongly pattern-dependent. To avoid the problem of determining complete and specific input signal characteristics, probabilistic techniques are based on typical input signal behaviour. They represent the average behaviour of the inputs using probabilities. Although the estimation is still dependent on the probabilities provided, it is sufficient to supply typical behaviour instead of specific behaviour. Thus [23] calls probabilistic power estimation techniques weakly pattern-dependent. Since calculations need only be performed once on the average data, instead of on a large number of simulation inputs, probabilistic techniques tend to require less computational resources than simulation-based techniques; however, some accuracy is sacrificed by of the use of averaging. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 25 2.4.2 Techniques: Circuit-level Typically, at the circuit-level users seek very precise estimates. As a result, circuit-level techniques tend to be simulation-based, while probabilistic techniques tend to be applied only at the gate-level and above [32]. SPICE SPICE provides very detailed, low-level simulation data for a circuit. SPICE stands for Simulation Program with Integrated Circuits Emphasis and is a general purpose analog circuit simulator for nonlinear DC, nonlinear transient, and linear AC analyses. It uses mathematical models to represent the devices in the circuit, such as resistors, capacitors, and transistors [33]. This very detailed simulation can result in high accuracy estimates, but it requires substantial computational resources, making it unsuitable for large circuits. SPICE was used in the creation of the Poon power model, which is discussed in Chapter 3. However, the work in this thesis will be done at higher levels of abstraction, due to runtime and complexity constraints. 2.4.3 Techniques: Gate-level Simulation-based gate-level analysis is very mature. The most popular type of gate-level analysis uses event-driven logic simulation, where switching events at the inputs of a logic gate trigger events at the output after a pre-defined delay. Probabilistic gate-level techniques exist as well, to reduce the execution time of estimates. We used both simulation-based and probabilistic gate-level techniques in this work. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 26 Synopsys PrimePower Synopsys PrimePower is a simulation-based dynamic power analysis took for gate-level power verification that can be used on multimillion-gate designs. It combines gate-level simulation results with delay and capacitance information from technology libraries to get detailed power information. In addition to average power numbers, PrimePower reports instantaneous power consumption in different parts of the design. Transition Probability The Transition Probability Technique relates the average dynamic power of nodes to the likelihood that they will switch. To use the Transition Probability Technique, we need the signal probability and the transition probability of each node. The signal probability, Psignah of a node is the average fraction of clock cycles in which the steady state value of the node is logic high. The transition probability, Pt, of a node is the average fraction of clock cycles in which the steady state value of the node is different from its initial value [23]. The Transition Probability Technique makes some simplifying assumptions: zero-delay, spatial independence of inputs and internal nodes, and temporal independence of signal values. The assumption of zero-delay means there is, at most, a single transition of each signal per clock cycle; in reality, there are delays and they can cause the output of a gate to transition multiple times before settling at its final value for the clock cycle. The assumption of spatial independence means we assume that there is no correlation be tween nodes, although, in reality, the value of one signal may affect the value of another Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 27 signal, in the same cycle. The assumption is made because calculating the correlation between signals for a large circuit is prohibitively expensive. The assumption of temporal independence means that we assume, for a given signal, that values in consecutive clock cycles are independent of each other. With those assumptions, the average power can be calculated using Equation 2.3: P = 0.5-Vd2J J2 C^ (2-3) all nodes where Vdd is the supply voltage, / is the clock frequency of the circuit, C, is the total capacitance at node i, and Ptj is the transition probability at node i. Because of the zero-delay assumption, Equation 2.3 only gives a lower bound on the power - unmatched delays cause multiple transitions at gate outputs. With the temporal independence assumption, the transition probability can be calculated from the signal probability using Equation 2.4: Pt — 2 • PsignaliX Psignal) (2-4) Transition Density The Transition Density Technique is more accurate than the Transition Probability Tech nique and more computationally efficient than event-driven logic simulation. The advan tage of the Transition Density Technique over the Transition Probability Technique is that it distinguishes between multiple transitions of a node in a single cycle, making it more accurate. Switching activity can also be thought of as transition density, D(x) (for Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 28 node x), which is the average number of transitions of node x per unit time. Formally, it is given by Equation 2.5, Z?(x)4lim!^) (2.5) 1 —>oo 1 where T is the length of the time interval and nx(T) is the number of transitions in the time interval of length T. Given the transition density of all the nodes, the average power dissipation can be calculated using Equation 2.6: P = 0.5-Vd2d CiD(xi) (2.6) all nodes where Vdd is the supply voltage, Q is the capacitance at node i, and D{xi) is the transition density of node i. There are two important quantities in the calculation of activities for all nodes in the circuit using the Transition Density model: static probability and transition density. Static probability is the probability that the signal is high. To calculate the activity of each node in the circuit, the transition density for each node is computed, gate-by-gate, going from the primary inputs to the primary outputs. If we assume that all inputs are uncorrelated, we can use the relationship D(y) = . P all input pins where f(x) is the logic function of the gate, — f{x)\Xi~\ © f(x)\Xi=o is the boolean df(x) D{xi (2.7) Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 29 difference at the output port with respect to each input D(xi) is the transition density at input Xi and D(y) is the transition density at the output, y. P (j^^J can be calculated from the static probabilities of the inputs x{ using the relationships: • P(X) = 1 - P(X) • P(XY) = P(X) • P{Y) • P{X + Y) = P(X) + P(Y) - P(X) • P{Y) where P(X) is P\(X), the static probability of X. Lag-one Model The Transition Density model assumes that there is no temporal correlation. The purpose of using the lag-one model is to relax this assumption; the lag-one model assumes that the current value of a signal may depend on the value immediately preceding it. Using the lag-one model, the switching probability can be calculated using Equation 2.8: xiEXo P(Xi) • ^ P(Xi>Xj) XJ&XI (2.8) For a boolean function, /, Xi is the set of input states such that / (xi) = 1 V Xi € X\ and X0 is the set of input states such that /(ij) = 0V Xj € X0, P (XJ) is the probability that the current input state is xiy and P (x,, Xj) is the probability that the input state will be Xj at the end of a clock cycle if the state was X{ at the beginning of the clock cycle. This equation represents the summation of probabilities over all pairs of input states xt, Xj such that / (pa) = f (XJ), where an input state is a row of the truth table for /. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 30 2.4.4 Techniques: RT-level RT-level estimators are typically based on macro-modeling. Macro-modeling involves cre ating power macro-models for the basic functional components in the RTL libraries and characterizing them [4]. The user of an RTL estimator sees the macro-models as black boxes. However, creating a macro-model of a component involves characterizing its rep resentation at a lower level of abstraction [32]. For example, to do power characterization for an adder, we might estimate its gate-level implementation and use information about the gates to derive overall values for its power characteristics. Although power estimates at higher levels of abstraction are less accurate, they still provide valuable information. With the increase in the size and complexity of designs, it is desirable for designers to be able to estimate the power at a high level of abstraction so that the information can guide early architectural decisions. Another motivating factor is that the largest power reductions often come from architectural and algorithmic modi fications [34], which are least costly to make early in the design flow. However, although RTL estimators are available in commercial tools, they have not yet gained widespread acceptance in design practice. Reference [4] attributes this to the difficulty of quantifying the accuracy gap between gate-level and RTL power estimation in an industrial setting. Another deterrent noted by reference [4] is the fact that a large amount of characterization must be done to make a library of macro-models; this process must be automated to be efficient. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 31 Dual Bit Type Method The Dual Bit Type (DBT) Method [34] is an architecture-level strategy for generating accurate black-box models of datapath power consumption. Its creators note that, while typical strategies quantify activity and physical capacitance for their estimates, the strate gies do not account for the effect of signal statistics on the activity. In particular, the authors identify the correlation between sign bits of two's complement operands as being an important source of error when using the assumption of randomized inputs to the block being modeled. As an example, consider an FPGA with 8-bit adders and a user circuit where all the operands are 5 bits wide. The lower 5 bits could be adequately represented by uniform white noise (UWN) inputs, but the upper 3 bits would always be identical (correlated) sign-extension values. The creators of the DBT method propose to account for two input bit types: (1) correlated sign bits, and (2) UWN operand bits. Recall Equation 2.2: P = 0.5 -aCVd2J (2.9) To account for the two bit types, instead of using a single capacitative coefficient based on UWN inputs, they use multiple capacitative coefficients that account for transitions on each type of data on each input to the block. However, a two-input single-function module requires 73 capacitive coefficients; the number increases for semi-configurable multi-function DSP blocks that are found in FPGAs. Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 32 Entropy-based In reference [35], the authors propose to characterize the average switching activity of a module by using the average switching activity of a typical signal line in the module. Their goal is to obtain an acceptable estimate with a limited number of design details and at a significantly lower computational cost. They derive simple closed form expressions to approximate the switching activity in the RTL blocks using the concepts of entropy and informational energy. However, to manage the complexity of their calculations, they make the following simpifying assumptions: • Simplified, uniform network structure: Each level of the circuit has the same number of nodes and all the gates on each level are assumed to get their inputs from the previous level. • Asymptotic network depth: The number of levels in the circuit is large enough to be considered infinity. Unfortunately, DSP and arithmetic blocks in FPGAs do not have a uniform network structure and are not so large that we can approximate their network depth as infinite. 2.4.5 FPGA-specific Power Estimation Tools Spreadsheets The most accurate power estimation results for an FPGA design will be after the design has been implemented (i.e. placed, routed, and then simulated with accurate stimulus vectors). However, it is valuable to understand the impact of early high-level design Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 33 decisions on power dissipation. Power estimation spreadsheets can be used in the pre-implementation phase to obtain a rough idea of power dissipation for a design. These spreadsheets contain detailed device data constants from FPGA manufacturer datasheets. The user enters environmental conditions, voltage and clock information, logic utilization, and toggle rates. Early spreadsheets only calculated total power dissipated for voltage sources and components [36] [37]. The spreadsheets for the latest FPGA fami lies from Altera and Xilinx are newer and calculate the static, dynamic, and total power consumption [38] [39]. The Xilinx Virtex-4 spreadsheet also provides graphical represen tations of power, voltage, and temperature relationships and power used by each type of component. It should be noted that these spreadsheets compute power in a device-specific manner, based on constants. The user is expected to provide toggle activity information for each block, but (s)he might not know what values to use at such an early stage. CAD tools Industrial CAD tools that offer more accuracy than spreadsheets are Xilinx XPower and Altera PowerPlay Power Analyzer. They are used in the implementation phase, when design details such as placement and routing have been established. XPower requires either user supplied toggle rates, as with the spreadsheets, or post-implementation simulation data to estimate the power consumed [40]. PowerPlay is sim ilar, but also includes (for some device families) vectorless activity estimation to statisti cally estimate the signal activity of a node using the activities of the signals feeding the Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 34 node and the logic function implemented by the node [41]. The limitation of these tools is that they apply only to some of the Altera and Xilinx devices. The Poon power model is a freely available, detailed, flexible power model that has been integrated into the Versatile Place and Route (VPR) CAD tool. It estimates the dynamic, short-circuit, and leakage power consumed for a wide variety of user-specified FPGA architectures. It is described in detail in Chapter 3. 2.5 Focus and Contribution of Thesis Section 2.1 describes the basic island-style architecture and the improvements that exist in commercial FPGAs to improve density and speed. Unfortunately, available academic power estimation tools only support basic island-style architecture components. The goal of this research project is to enable fast and accurate estimation of power dissipated in FPGA designs that include embedded multiplier and DSP blocks (for the remainder of the thesis, both embedded multipliers and DSP blocks will be referred to as DSP blocks). Our project uses both simulation-based and probabilistic information at the gate-level to create a Power Estimation Tool Flow that includes automated RT-level embedded DSP block macro-model characterization. This work builds upon the Poon power model and the widely used VPR CAD Tool, which are described in Chapter 3. The contributions of this thesis can be summarized as: 1. Identification of a fast and accurate technique to estimate the switching activity of an embedded DSP block Chapter 2. Background and Previous Work 35 2. Identification of a fast and accurate technique to estimate power dissipated by DSP blocks 3. A tool flow for estimating embedded DSP block power in the context of FPGA designs. The impact of our enhanced tool flow is threefold; the existence of a freely available, architecturally flexible FPGA CAD tool that includes power modeling for embedded DSP blocks enables: 1. the investigation of power-aware architectures containing embedded DSP blocks 2. the investigation of power-aware CAD algorithms for FPGA circuits containing em bedded DSP blocks 3. the incorporation of power tradeoffs in the design of user circuits. 36 Chapter 3 Framework This chapter introduces the existing experimental CAD tool suite that forms the basis of our work. Section 3.1 describes the flow of the framework. Section 3.2 describes the T-VPack tool for packing basic logic elements into cluster-based logic blocks and the original VPR CAD tool. Section 3.3 describes the Poon power model and the improved activity estimation tool, ACE-2.0. Section 3.4 describes how our work fits into the existing framework and the requirements for our work. 3.1 Overall Flow Our work is based upon the VPR CAD tool suite, enhanced with the Poon power model (together PVPR). Frequently, "VPR" refers to the pair of tools T-VPack and VPR, since they are typically used together. In this thesis, we will do the same. Figure 3.1 illustrates the steps in the PVPR tool flow. The left side is the original VPR flow. For the Poon power model, activity estimation was added; this is shown to the right of the original VPR flow. The first input to the flow is a netlist describing the user's circuit. This netlist must be pre-processed to generate the correct data and data format required by VPR. This pre-Chapter 3. Framework 37 Netlist Logic Optimization and Technology Mapping J Mapped Netlist Parameterized Architecture • Description Power Estimates Figure 3.1: Overall CAD Flow (from [5]) processing involves logic optimization using SIS [42] and technology mapping to LUTs and flip-flops using FlowMap+FlowPack [43]. The result of technology mapping is a netlist mapped to the desired FPGA architecture. This mapped netlist and input stimuli are inputs to the activity estimation module, ACE-1.0, which is based on the Transition Density model. The output of ACE-1.0 is switching activity information for each node in the mapped netlist. The mapped netlist, switching activity information, and cluster architecture parameters are then input to T-VPack, which packs the LUTs and flip-flops into cluster-based logic blocks. The cluster-based blocks are placed using the VPR placement engine. The connections between the placed blocks are then routed using the VPR routing engine. VPR generates reports of placement and routing statistics. Architectural investiga tions can then be performed by varying the parameters in the parameterized architecture Chapter 3. Framework 38 description and examining the resulting statistics. Algorithmic investigations can also be performed by making modifications to the packing, placement or routing engines and examining the statistics for a set of benchmark circuits. The Poon power model adds the generation of power statistics for the clock, logic, and interconnect to VPR. These power statistics can be used in both architectural and algorithmic studies for basic Island-style FPGA architectures. 3.2 Versatile Place and Route (VPR) VPR is a freely available CAD tool that is widely used for performing FPGA architectural studies. It is composed of a packing tool, a placement and routing engine, and a detailed area and delay model. 3.2.1 Architectural Assumptions There are a large number of architectural alternatives for FPGAs and not all are supported by VPR. VPR targets SRAM-based Island-style FPGAs with cluster-based logic blocks and perimeter I/O. Each SRAM cell is made of six minimum-sized transistors with gate voltage boosting to overcome the Body effect. Four types of switch block architectures are supported for the programmable connection of routing tracks: Disjoint [44], Universal [45], Wilton [46], and Imran [47]. Chapter 3. Framework 39 3.2.2 T-VPack T-VPack is a timing-driven CAD tool; it takes a circuit netlist that has been technology mapped to LUTs and flip-flops and packs these basic logic elements into larger cluster-based logic blocks. Before the placement stage of VPR, the circuit netlist is processed using the T-VPack tool. As described in Section 2.1.1, the use of coarse-grained logic blocks results in faster, denser circuits, and in faster place and route runtimes. T-VPack has the optimization goals of: • Minimizing the number of inter-cluster connections on the critical path of the circuit • Reducing the number of connections required between clusters by minimizing the number of inputs to the clusters • Minimizing the number of clusters needed 3.2.3 Placement and Routing Engine The placement tool assigns the cluster-based logic blocks to locations in the FPGA. The FPGA is modeled as a set of legal locations where logic blocks or I/O pads can be placed. An initial random placement is constructed, then simulated annealing is used to improve the solution. Optimization goals involve minimizing wiring and maximizing circuit speed. As will be described in Section 6.1.2, we modified the placement tool to place DSP blocks as well. Once placement is complete, the routing tool determines which programmable switches to turn on to make the required inter-logic block connections in the FPGA. VPR represents Chapter 3. Framework 40 the routing architecture of the FPGA as a directed graph called the routing resource graph. Two routing algorithms are available: a purely routability-driven algorithm and a timing-and routability-driven algorithm. 3.2.4 Architectural Flexibility The reason for VPR's versatility is its flexible representation of architectures that the user specifies in an architecture file. The following features can be specified: • Logic block architecture • Detailed routing architecture • Channel width • Timing analysis parameters • Process technology parameters and capacitances 3.3 Poon Power Model 3.3.1 Architectural Assumptions As the Poon model is incorporated into VPR, it uses the architectural assumptions made by VPR. However, the original version of VPR assumes that the clock and other global signals are implemented using special dedicated resources. The version of VPR enhanced with the Poon model assumes an H-Tree clock distribution network and uses the total capacitance of the clock network for power estimation. Chapter 3. Framework 41 3.3.2 Activity Estimation In the Poon model, the first step is to estimate the activities of the nodes in the FPGA. The activity estimation tool for the power model is called ACE. To distinguish between major revisions of the tool, the original will be referred to as ACE-1.0 and its sucessor will be referred to as ACE-2.0 [48]. This section will describe the techniques used for estimation in ACE-1.0 and ACE-2.0. ACE-1.0 ACE-1.0 is the original activity estimation tool for the Poon model. It estimates the static probability (Pi), switching probability (Ps), and switching activity (As) for combi national and sequential gate-level circuits using the Transition Density signal model. The original Transition Density model only handles combinational circuits, but was enhanced to support sequential circuits. To support circuits with sequential feedback, an iterative technique is used to update the switching probabilities at the output of the flip-flops, using the expressions P^Q) = PX(D) and PS(Q) = 2 • P^D) • (1 - Pi (£>)). The original Transition Density model was also enhanced to account for logic gate inertial delays by adding an analytical low-pass filter to filter out very short glitches. The authors of [48] found ACE-1.0 to be inaccurate for large and/or sequential circuits. They found that ACE-1.0 overestimates activities and suggest that the low-pass filter function is insufficient for reducing glitching. They also attribute the poor sequential circuit performance to the simple expressions used in the iterative technique for updating the switching probabilities at the outputs of flip-flops. The next subsection describes the Chapter 3. Framework 42 activity estimator from [48], ACE-2.0, which addresses the weaknesses of ACE-1.0. ACE-2.0 ACE-2.0 is a faster and more accurate probabilistic activity estimator for the Poon power model. It has three stages that address the weaknesses of ACE-1.0: 1. Simulation of sequential feedback loops 2. Calculation of Pi and Ps values for nodes not in sequential feedback loops using the Lag-one model 3. Calculation of As using a probabilistic technique that accounts for glitching The first stage improves the accuracy of activity estimation in sequential circuits. Since simulation techniques were avoided because of runtime issues, ACE-2.0 only simulates the logic in sequential feedback loops. In the second stage, ACE-2.0 obtains the Pi and Ps values using the Lag-one model for the parts of the circuit not simulated, which produces exact switching probabilities if we assume that inputs are not correlated [48]. ACE-1.0 uses the Transition Density model, which assumes that there is no temporal correlation. The purpose of using the lag-one model is to relax this assumption; the lag-one model assumes that the current value of a signal may depend on the value immediately preceding it. The most efficient known implementation of the Lag-one model uses a Binary Decision Diagram (BDD). However, there is an exponential relationship between BDD size and the number of inputs, making this implementation impractical for large circuits. ACE-2.0 combines BDD pruning with a partial collapsing technique to give smaller BDDs. Chapter 3. Framework 43 In the third stage, ACE-2.0 calculates the switching activities. It uses a generalization of the Lag-one model and accounts for glitching by incorporating the concept of a minimum pulse width for passing glitches. 3.3.3 Power Estimation The Poon model uses estimated capacitances at the transistor level for each component inside the FPGA. Then, using the capacitance values and switching activity estimates, the average power dissipation is calculated. The model was compared against HSPICE simulations. The Poon model dynamic power estimates were found to be within 4.8% for routing and 8.4% for logic. For leakage, average difference between the estimates and the HSPICE results was 13.4%. Dynamic power is the dominant component of the total power in an FPGA. The Poon model calculates capacitance values at the transistor level to determine the power dissipation of LUTs, multiplexers, and buffers inside logic blocks. It also uses the metal capacitance of each routing track and the parasitic capacitance of all switches attached to the track, specified using the process technology parameters in the architecture file, to calculate the power dissipated in the FPGA routing. The routing power is a large portion of the dynamic power dissipated. Since the SRAM programming bits in the FPGA do not change value after configuration, they are not included in the dynamic power calculations. The dynamic power is calculated using the equation: (3.1) all nodes Chapter 3. Framework 44 The short circuit power is modeled as 10% of the dynamic power, based on extensive HSPICE simulations in [5]. The leakage power has two components: reverse bias leakage and subthreshold leakage. As the Poon model was calibrated using a 0.18 /zm process technology, it assumes that the reverse bias leakage is negligible. To calculate the subthreshold leakage the Poon model uses the equation: Fleak Idrain (weak inversion) ' ^supply (3*2) It uses a first order analytical estimation model to estimate the subthreshold current. 3.3.4 Architectural Flexibility Enhancements for the Poon model add support to the architecture file for the flexible specification of: • Supply, swing, and gate-source voltage levels • Leakage and short circuit power parameters • NMOS and PMOS transistor characteristics • Clock network architecture parameters 3.4 DSP Block Power Model and Tool Flow The DSP block power model that we propose is an extension for the PVPR flow. Section 3.4.1 discusses the requirements of the power model we have developed as part of this work. Section 3.4.2 explains where our work fits in to the PVPR flow. Chapter 3. Framework 45 3.4.1 Requirements As stated earlier, our power model must fit into an existing FPGA CAD tool flow. In order to allow the investigation of future architectures, instead of simply existing commercial architectures, we prefer that this CAD tool be architecturally flexible; it should be possible to specify a wide range of logic block, routing, clock, and DSP block architectures. In an architectural investigation, many iterations of PVPR are executed to gather data about the impact of varying certain architectural parameters. In order to not hinder the use of PVPR for an investigation requiring tens (or even hundreds) of iterations, our power estimation must be fast. Furthermore, in order for the power estimates from the investigation to be meaningful, they must be accurate. The previous requirements pertain to the tool flow that is visible to the PVPR user. An important input to the tool flow in Figure 3.4.2 is the DSP block characterization data. As described in Section 2.4.4, a deterrent to the use of macro-modeling at the RT-level is the fact that a large amount of characterization must be done to make a library of macro-models; this process must be automated to be efficient. Therefore, to make our tool flow attractive, we must minimize the effort required when adding models for new DSP blocks and automate characterization. 3.4.2 Extending PVPR Flow Figure 3.2 shows how our model fits into the PVPR flow. Pre-processing of the DSP blocks in the mapped netlist is required before the activities can be generated for the nodes in a user's circuit that contains DSP blocks. Additional characterization data Chapter 3. Framework 46 Netlist I Logic Optimization » " and Technology Mapping Netlisl Pre-processing for - ; * DSP Blocks Mapped Netlist j J J , Acttvfty Input Stimuli 1 '(ACE-2 0)-_____ ^Switching Activity Information Parameterized Architecture • Description ',' *.£ 'Packing ^Modified T:VPACK) • Placement (VPR) • DSP Block Characterization Data Power Estimation (Implemented in VPR) j Power Estimates Figure 3.2: CAD Flow Enhanced to Support DSP Block Power Estimation is also required in order to estimate the power of the DSP blocks in the final stage of processing. The addition of our work to the PVPR flow expands the support of PVPR to FPGA architectures that contain DSP blocks, thus enabling architectural and algorithmic investigations with circuits that contain these blocks. 3.5 Chapter Summary Our work modifies the widely used PVPR tool flow. PVPR is composed of the VPR en gines and the Poon power model. The VPR engines are the T-VPack clustering algorithm, the VPR placement engine, and the VPR routing engine. The Poon power model adds activity estimation and power estimation for logic blocks, interconnect, and the clock. Our work modifies the PVPR flow to add activity estimation for DSP blocks and power estimation of DSP blocks using characterization information. The requirements for our Chapter 3. Framework 47 work are: • The DSP block power estimation must fit into an existing architecturally flexible FPGA CAD tool flow • The power estimation must be fast • The power estimation must be accurate • The characterization effort must be low and should be automated As mentioned in Section 1.2, the last three of these requirements are competing factors; fast estimation and low characterization effort will generally lead to less accurate results. Thus, we must find a suitable balance between speed, characterization effort, and accuracy. Details of how we determined accurate methods for performing activity estimation and power estimation for DSP blocks are discussed in Chapters 4 and 5, respectively. The com plete automated tool flow, including DSP block characterization, is described in Chapter 6. 48 Chapter 4 Activity Estimation 4.1 Motivation for developing Activity Estimation Techniques An important part of estimating the power dissipated in an FPGA is estimating the ac tivity of each connection in the circuit. In the Poon power model, activities are calculated gate-by-gate, starting from the primary inputs. Since each gate (LUT) is small, the Tran sition Density or Lag-one model can be used to calculate the activity of the output of each LUT as a function of the activity of its inputs. It is not feasible, however, to propagate activities through a DSP block using the Transition Density or Lag-one model since the computation performed using these models (and other related models) is 0(2k) where k is the number of inputs to the block. Thus, a new technique is required. In this chapter, two alternative techniques to estimate the activities of each DSP output pin are consid ered. The two techniques are compared to determine which is suitable for use within the experimental CAD flow that was developed in this work. It is important to note that the techniques described below are only being used to estimate the activities of the output pins of each embedded block. Power estimation of Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 49 Circuit Inputs DSP Block Technology Circuit Verilog Description Library uutiitututt Circuit DSP Block Tech Map AI h S,rt'li />• \i Quartus II Gates with DC II Random Vectors for Inputs DSP Block |Fptten Circuit; [^Pi;to:gates; ACEv2 0 TTTTTTTTT Circuit Outputs Activity Estimates B) Gate-Level Technique Flow A) Rattened DSP Blocks for Gate-Level Technique Figure 4.1: Gate-Level Technique these blocks will be discussed in Chapter 5. 4.2 Techniques for Activity Estimation of an Embedded Block This section describes two techniques for estimating the activity in circuits containing embedded DSP and multiplier blocks. Although Platform-style FPGAs also contain mem ories, processors, and other features, we limit our experiments to circuits containing only DSP and multiplier blocks, logic, and interconnect. This ensures that the results we obtain are not obscured by assumptions about the other Platform-style features. 4.2.1 Gate-Level Technique The first technique is an extension of the Poon model activity estimation method. The embedded blocks are too large to for us to apply the Transition Density or Lag-one model to them directly. To be able to use the Transition Density or Lag-one models, this Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 50 technique involves representing the embedded blocks by their gate-level implementations. The flattened circuit would then consist of LUTs (for the parts of the circuits not in the embedded blocks) and the gates that make up each embedded block. The Transition Density or Lag-one model can then be applied directly to this flattened netlist. This technique will be referred to as the Gate-Level Technique. Figure 4.1(A) shows the circuit with the flattened DSP blocks in grey and the LUT-and-interconnect part of the circuit in white. Figure 4.1(B) shows a flow that employs this technique. In this flow, the DSP block to be evaluated is described in Verilog. Synopsys Design Compiler is used to map the block to gates, using TSMC 0.18 /im technology library information. The parent circuit to be considered is technology mapped using Quartus II in order to determine what gets mapped to DSP blocks. The parent circuit is then flattened and the DSP blocks are replaced with their gate-level representations. Then, activity estimation is performed. Currently, the use of Quartus II for technology mapping restricts us to Altera-style DSP blocks; however, Quartus II could be replaced with another technology mapping tool to evaluate non-Altera-style DSP blocks. It is important to emphasize that we do not modify the netlist that will be implemented in the FPGA. The flattened netlist is generated only during activity estimation. The principal advantage of this technique is that it accounts for the correlation between the input activities and output activities of the DSP blocks. Another advantage of this technique is that it allows the use of ACE-2.0 to estimate the activity for all the nodes in the circuit, including the DSP block nodes. Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 51 Circuit Inputs Circuit 1 Circuit Pseudo-outputs ;Tech Map with I Quartus II Jc Jc Jc Pseudo-outputs • .. I Random Vectors for Inputs and Pseudo-inputs •* 4- 4-DSP Block * Pseudo-inputs Remove DSP: biocks li Pseudo-inputs ACEv2 0 TTTTTTTTT Circuit Outputs Activity Estimates A) Independent Output Technique Terminology B) Independent Output Technique Flow Figure 4.2: Independent Output Technique The disadvantage of this technique is that it requires a gate-level implementation of the DSP block and proprietary technology library information. Since we expect that this technique would be used for evaluating a large number of architectures, a non-trivial amount of effort would be involved in generating gate-level implementations for each DSP block to be evaluated. 4.2.2 Independent Output Technique The second technique that was evaluated addresses the disadvantage of the previous tech nique. If sufficiently accurate, we would prefer to use a technique that does not require proprietary technology or implementation details. In this technique we propose to model the embedded blocks as if they are external to the circuit. The remainder of the circuit is composed of LUTs and interconnect, so the Poon model can be applied to that part. To model the DSP blocks as external to the circuit, the inputs to the embedded block are treated as primary outputs of the circuit and the outputs of the embedded block are Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 52 treated as primary inputs to the circuit. We refer to the DSP block inputs and outputs as pseudo-outputs and pseudo-inputs of the circuit, respectively, as shown in Figure 4.2(A). In this technique, the pseudo-inputs are assigned values in the same way that the primary inputs are assigned values by the Poon model. Random input vectors with a specified average activity are applied to the inputs and pseudo-inputs. The activities are then propagated through the circuit using ACE-2.0. When the inputs to a DSP block, pseudo-outputs, are encountered, the activities are not propagated through the DSP block. Instead, the pseudo-outputs are treated in the same way as the primary outputs. The activity calculations for the nodes downstream from the DSP block proceed using the pseudo-input values. In effect, the estimated output activities of a DSP block are then independent of the input activities to the DSP block. This technique will be referred to as the Independent Output Technique. Figure 4.2(B) shows a flow that employs this technique. The parent circuit is tech nology mapped using Quartus II. The DSP blocks are removed from the netlist and the nodes that were formerly outputs of the DSP block are represented as inputs to the circuit. Input vectors are then applied to the inputs and pseudo-inputs and activity estimation is performed using ACE-2.0. The advantage of this technique is that it does not require gate-level implementation and technology information. The disadvantage of this technique is that inaccuracies are being introduced because, in general, DSP block output transitions are not independent of their input transitions. Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 53 Reference [49] found that for word-parallel or bit-serial arithmetic, the average activity at the output of an adder can be closely approximated by the maximum of the average activities of the two inputs, implying that there is a dependence. 4.3 Methodology and Results for Activity Estimation In comparing the accuracy of the two techniques, the Gate Level Technique will be used as the baseline. To determine how well the simpler Independent Output Technique correlates with the more accurate Gate-Level Technique, two quantities will be compared: 1. The activities at the outputs 2. The activities at the downstream nodes In order to accurately estimate the power dissipated by the nets driven by the DSP block, accurate activities for these nets are needed. However, if the activities of all the DSP output pins are similar, then using a single average value could be sufficient. When we refer to the downstream nodes of a DSP block, we mean the nodes between the DSP block outputs and the circuit outputs. Inaccurate activity estimates at the DSP block outputs may lead to inaccurate activity estimates for the downstream nodes due to the iterative nature of activity estimation algorithms (the output activity of each node is estimated based on the activities of the node inputs). Since there are typically many more downstream nodes than there are DSP output pins, inaccuracies in these downstream Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 54 Block Output Pin Figure 4.3: Output Pin Activities for Unregistered Multiplier nodes may have a larger impact on the accuracy of the estimation than would inaccuracies in the DSP outputs. In this section, both of these quantities were measured to determine whether the Independent Output Technique provides sufficient accuracy. 4.3.1 Output Nodes of DSP Block In this subsection, the activities at the outputs are compared. To begin the investigation, the activity of each output pin of a 9-bit x 9-bit multiplier was examined. Random inputs (with a known average activity) were applied to the inputs of the multiplier, and ACE-2.0 was used to estimate the output activity of each pin. The results are plotted in Figure 4.3. The horizontal axis spans the set of 19 multiplier outputs (sign, LSB to MSB) and the vertical axis is the estimated activity of each of these outputs. Each line corresponds Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 55 O.fl -0.5 — i04 u < 0.3 -Q. 9 a. 3 02 o 0 1 0 -^ ^ i!?1 ^ <SN ^ J5n ^ ^ ^ ^ X*1 A*" ^ y / 4 & & # 4 f y # # f f f Block Output Pin Figure 4.4: Output Pin Activities for Registered Multiplier to a different average input activity. For all values of the average input activity, the conclusion is the same: the estimated activity differs across the output pins. The pins that are on the far left and right of the graph (the least and most-significant bits) have low activities, while the activities of the middle bits are large. This implies that there is a specific distribution for the activities of the output pins, and that choosing these activities randomly (as is done in the Independent Output Technique) will lead to inaccurate activity estimates for these nodes. Note that the activities reported in Figure 4.3 are large, mostly greater than one. This is because multipliers tend to produce a large number of glitches on their outputs [50]. Most DSP blocks, however, contain registers on their output pins, which will remove these glitches. Figure 4.4 shows the results of the same experiment in which registers are added at the output of each multiplier. As the graph shows, the distribution is still there, especially for the extreme least and most significant bits. Chapter 4. Activity Estimation Block Output Pin Figure 4.5: Output Pin Activities for Unregistered DSP Block S 01 > ™ o < .£ 0.3 Q. (— 3 Q. o 02 0.3 avg input activity -0.5 avg input activity - 0.7 avg input activity 0.9 avg input activity Block Output Pin Figure 4.6: Output Pin Activities for Registered DSP Block Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 57 Figure 4.7: 18-bit x 18-bit Multipliers Combined for 36-bit x 36-bit Multiplier Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 58 FIR Filter Figure 4.8: FIR Filter Used for Activity Experiments Figures 4.5 and 4.6 show the results of the same experiment on a more complicated DSP block. The block is shown in Figure 4.7. It is similar to an Altera DSP block configuration: it combines four 18-bit x 18-bit multipliers and an adder to give a 36-bit x 36-bit multiplier. Again the conclusion is the same: a single average value to represent the activities will not capture the distribution of activities at the output pins. 4.3.2 Downstream Nodes of DSP Block The results in Section 4.3.1 were for the DSP output pins only. In this section, we consider the nodes that lie downstream from the DSP blocks. Because ACE-2.0 propagates activities from inputs to outputs, inaccuracies in the DSP output activities will lead to inaccuracies in these downstream activities. The purpose of the remainder of this section is to understand how inaccurate these activities will be. To perform these experiments, the FIR filter shown in Figure 4.8 was used. This cir cuit contains a bank of four multipliers followed by an adder tree; registers are included after the multipliers and within the adder tree to support pipelining, and to reduce glitch Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 59 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 1.2 Downstream Activities (Gate Level) Figure 4.9: Activity Results for the FIR Filter 1.4 power. The activities of all nodes in the circuit were estimated using two methods: the Independent Output Technique flow shown in Figure 4.2(B) and the Gate-Level Technique flow shown in Figure 4.1(B). Figure 4.9 shows the results. In this graph, each dot corre sponds to a node in the circuit; only nodes that are "downstream" (to the right of) the multipliers are included, starting with the outputs of the multiplier output registers. The x-coordinate of a dot is the activity predicted for the corresponding node by the Gate-Level (more accurate) Technique, while the y-coordinate of the dot is the activity predicted for the corresponding node by the Independent Output (less accurate) Technique. In this plot, a straight line at y=x would indicate that there is perfect correlation between the two estimation techniques. As the graph shows, the correlation is good; the R2 correlation metric is 0.8091. This is surprising, since the activities of the multiplier outputs are as shown in Figure 4.4 for the Gate-Level Technique, but random for the Independent Output Technique. The reason has to do with the nature of the downstream Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 60 0.8 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 Downstream activities (Gate Level) Figure 4.10: Activity Results for the Converter circuit. As mentioned in Section 4.2.2, [49] found that for word-parallel or bit-serial arithmetic, the average activity at the output of an adder can be closely approximated by the maximum of the average activities of the two inputs. Other adder configurations were considered with similar results. The good correlation values do not hold for other downstream circuits, however. The adder tree in Figure 4.8 was replaced with a signed-magnitude to 2s complement converter, and found that P2=0.542, as shown in Figure 4.10, which is not nearly as good. 4.4 Conclusions for Activity Estimation Based on the results from the previous subsection, it was concluded that the activities obtained using the Independent Output technique do not correlate well with those ob tained using the more accurate Gate-Level technique for all downstream circuits. Since Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 61 the Power Estimation Tool Flow must work for a wide variety of DSP architectures and downstream circuits, it was concluded that the Gate-Level technique is required for the flow. Note that the results in Figures.4.4 and 4.6 suggest a third activity estimation tech nique (instead of the Independent Output and the Gate-Level techniques). Rather than generate the multiplier output activities randomly (as in the Independent Output Tech nique), it may be possible to construct a distribution function, and generate activities based on this distribution function. While this would be possible, it would require a significant amount of characterization effort each time a new embedded DSP block is to be evaluated, since the distribution function can be significantly different for different DSP block architectures. Given that ACE-2.0 is fast and accurate [48], and the Gate-Level Technique is easier, the extra characterization effort for this third method is not warranted. 4.5 Chapter Summary The motivation for developing a new activity estimation technique is runtime. It is not feasible to propagate activities through a DSP block using the Transition Density or Lag-one model since the computation performed using these models (and other related models) is 0(2k), where k is the number of inputs to the block. The Gate-Level Technique was introduced as an extension of the Poon model activity estimation method. The Independent Output Technique was introduced because we would prefer to use a technique that does not require proprietary technology or implementation details. Our experiments Chapter 4. Activity Estimation 62 showed that the more accurate Gate-Level Technique is required for our Power Estimation Tool Flow. 63 Chapter 5 Power Estimation Once the activity estimates for each input and output pin of the DSP block have been obtained, the Power Estimation Tool Flow must estimate the power dissipated within each DSP block. This chapter describes and evaluates techniques for doing characterization-based power estimates. 5.1 Techniques for Power Estimation 5.1.1 Objectives Since one of the objectives for this flow is to allow architectural exploration and experi mentation, power estimation must be fast. This will facilitate many iterations of the flow in architectural parameter sweeps. Although it would be possible to create a gate-level model and use gate-level power simulation (such as with PrimePower), this would be far too slow to include in the inner loop of the Power Estimation Tool Flow. Therefore, a method is needed to quickly estimate the power of the embedded block, without resorting to modeling every internal node in the block. Reduced estimation time typically comes at the cost of accuracy. In this chapter, we compare the accuracy of three fast and relatively simple techniques for estimating Chapter 5. Power Estimation 64 the power of an embedded DSP block against simulation results. For each technique, offline characterization is used to obtain data that can be quickly referenced at runtime. A limited amount of data is found once for each DSP block architecture, offline, using PrimePower. The following sections describe the three techniques we considered in increasing order of modeling effort. 5.1.2 The Constant Technique The first technique is the simplest. For this technique, the power dissipated by a DSP block is assumed to be a constant, dependent on the DSP block type and independent of the activities of the input and output pins. This technique will be referred to as the Constant Technique. The advantages of this technique are that it is simple and fast. The disadvantage of this technique is that it may lead to inaccurate estimates, since the power dissipated in an embedded block does depend on the input pin activities. However, this technique could be sufficient if the dependence is weak and the deviation from the average power is small. 5.1.3 The Lookup Technique For the second technique, we approximate the power dissipated by the embedded block as a function of the average activity of all the DSP block inputs. The function need-not be linear, and may be implemented as a look-up table rather than as a closed-form function. This technique will be referred to as the Lookup Technique. Chapter 5. Power Estimation 65 The advantage of this technique is that it is still relatively simple and fast, though it does involve more modeling effort than the Constant Technique. The disadvantage of this technique is that it assumes all input pins contribute equally to the power dissipated by the block. If we consider a multiplier block, for example, it will have pins corresponding to the multiplicand and multiplier operands. The fanout logic from the multiplicand operand pins may be very different from the fariout logic from the multiplier operand pins; thus, we expect that their contribution to the power dissipation will differ. However, if the difference does not cause substantial variation in the total power dissipation from an average over many trials, then this technique could be sufficient. The Lookup Technique may provide inaccurate power estimates, since only the average input activity is used to estimate the power. As mentioned in the previous section, in reality, not all inputs pins are equal; activity on some pins may have more impact on the power dissipation of a block than the same activity on other input pins. To take this into we estimate, for each input pin in isolation, how much of an impact that pin has on the overall power dissipation of the embedded block. This is quantified by calculating an effective capacitance, Cj, for each input pin i. Then, the total power can be calculated as: 5.1.4 The PinCap Technique account, a third technique is considered, called the PinCap Technique. For this technique (5.1). all-input jpins where / is the frequency of the circuit and is the activity of pin i. Intuitively, this Chapter 5. Power Estimation 66 Technology DSP Block Library Verilog Description i Synthesize to Gates with DC Verilog Testbench + Input Vectors * r Simulate with Verilog-XL Analyze Power with PnmePower —J— Power Estimates Figure 5.1: Methodology for Power Estimation Experiments technique might provide accurate results, at the expense of more characterization effort. 5.2 Methodology for Power Characterization Each of the three techniques requires some amount of offline characterization. This section describes the characterization methodology for each technique. Figure 5.1 shows the flow used to obtain this characterization data. A Verilog description of the DSP block was synthesized to gates using Synopsys Design Compiler. A Verilog testbench was used to simulate a set of input vectors applied to the gate-level description of the DSP block in Verilog-XL. The simulation data was then fed to the Synopsys PrimePower simulator to obtain characterization information. This is done for a training set of input vectors, according to the characterization technique used. Chapter 5. Power Estimation 67 5.2.1 Constant Technique For the Constant Technique, we repeated this characterization task nine times for the given DSP block for average input activity values in the set {0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0:5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9}. For each of the 9 average activity values, a training set of 10 x 5000 input vectors was simulated to get 10 power estimates. We took the average of all 90 results to obtain a single value to use as the constant power value for the DSP block. It should be noted that there is a one-to-many, relationship between the average activity for a set of input vectors and power estimates for that average input activity. Different sets of input vectors may differ in the individual activities of each input pin and, as described in Section 5.1.4, different pins may contribute to the power of the block differently. 5.2.2 Lookup Technique For the Lookup Technique, we reused the data from the Constant Technique characteri zation. We averaged the 10 estimates for each of the 9 activity values to obtain 9 data points. These 9 average input activities and their corresponding average power estimates became the activity-power estimate pairs for the Lookup Technique look-up table. This table was then included in the power model. 5.2.3 PinCap Technique The input vector sets used for characterization for the PinCap Technique were different from those used for the Constant and Lookup Technique characterization. In those vector sets, all bits would toggle. For this technique, to assess the contribution of individual Chapter 5. Power Estimation 68 Training Set of 10x5,000 vectors at each activity Characterization (Section 5.2) 30 x 5,000 vectors at each activity Characterization data Estimation (3 techniques) PrimePower Power estimate Power estimate Figure 5.2: Power Estimation Experimental Methodology pins, all other pins except the one in question were held constant; the pin in question was then toggled with the given activity. The resulting power from PrimePower and Equation 5.1 was then used to determine the effective capacitance for pin j, Cj, because a* = 0 for all i ^ j. This was repeated for each input pin to the DSP block. Once the effective capacitance for each input pin was determined, the values were included in the power model. Input sets with average activities of 0.2 and 0.5 were used for the characterization.. Conclusions about the PinCap technique could be drawn from the results for these two average input activities, so PinCap charaterization for the remaining activities between 0.1 and 0.9 was not necessary. 5.3 Evaluation In this section, we evaluate the accuracy of each of the three power estimation techniques. The experimental methodology is shown in Figure 5.2. For each technique, we performed Chapter 5. Power Estimation 69 4.0E-03 i 5.0E-04 O.OE+00 J 1 1 1 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1 Average Activity for Vector Set Figure 5.3: Power Estimation Experiment Results the characterization tasks described in Section 5.2 for a 9x9-bit multiplier. We then com pared the power estimated by each technique to that estimated by PrimePower simulation (which is presumably more accurate than any of our three techniques). For this experi ment, we used 30 x 5000 randomly generated input vectors at each of the average input activity values in the set {0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9} (this is more than was used during the offline characterization). Figure 5.3 shows the results for the Constant Technique and the Lookup Technique. Each point on the graph represents the results for one set of 5000 vectors. The x-coordinate of the point is the average activity of all input vectors within the set, and the y-coordinate of the point is the estimated power. The triangular dots represent the estimates using the Constant Technique, while the circular dots represent the predictions from the Lookup Technique. For comparison, the PrimePower estimates are also plotted on the same graph; the PrimePower estimates are shown as diamonds. As the graph shows, the Constant Chapter 5. Power Estimation 70 4.5E-03 —•"PrimePower 4.0E-03 3.5E-03 _. 3.0E-03 CD I 2.5E-03 J> 2.0E-03 o ? 1.5E-03 a. 1.0E-03 5.0E-04 0.0E+0O J J Vector sets sorted by PrimePower power value, in increasing order Figure 5.4: Power Estimation Experiment Results Technique (in which a single power value is used, independent of the input activity) provides poor estimates, compared to the PrimePower results. The Lookup Technique, on the other hand, produces results that track well with the PrimePower results. The average difference between the Lookup Technique and PrimePower estimates was 8%. The experiment was repeated with a DSP block rather than a multiplier, and the conclusions were the same; the average difference between the Lookup Technique and the PrimePower results was 5%. This suggests that it is important to take the input activities into account when estimating power of the block, but that the average of the input activities is enough information to get reasonably accurate power estimates. For the PinCap Technique, the results were not as good. Figure 5.4 shows the es timates obtained using the PinCap Technique, along with the estimates obtained using PrimePower. In this graph, only vector sets with an average input activity of 0.2 were considered. Each point in this graph corresponds to one such set. The points are dis-Chapter 5. Power Estimation 71 tributed evenly across the x-axis, sorted by the values of the PrimePower estimate. As the graph shows, even for these sets, which all correspond to the same average activity, the power estimates predicted by the PinCap technique vary widely, and have no correlation to the PrimePower estimates. The PinCap Technique always overestimates the actual power; this is because the technique assumes that the power contribution of each input pin is independent of the power contribution of each other input pin, when in fact, it is not. The total power is not simply the sum of the contributions from each pin. Even if the PinCap results are scaled by a constant value in an attempt to reflect this, the results do not track the simulation results well (this is also shown in Figure 5.4). Other input activities were also attempted and no simple way was found to scale the results to take into account overlap between the contributions of multiple input pins. 5.4 Conclusions for Power Estimation Based on the results from the previous section, we concluded that the Lookup Technique is most appropriate for the Power Estimation Tool Flow. Not only does it provide reasonably accurate results, but the characterization effort is relatively simple, and the run-time of the power estimate is small. Chapter 5. Power Estimation 72 5.5 Chapter Summary The objective of the power estimation experiments was to determine a fast and accurate technique for estimating the power of DSP blocks, given input activities. We introduced three techniques, in increasing order of complexity: (1) the Constant Technique, (2) the Lookup Technique, and (3) the PinCap Technique. Power estimates using these techniques were performed and compared against PrimePower simulations for accuracy. We found that it is important to consider the input activities when estimating the power and that the Lookup Technique is most suitable for our Power Estimation Tool Flow. 73 Chapter 6 Power Estimation Tool Flow This chapter describes how we combined our Gate-Level activity estimation technique from Chapter 4 and our Lookup power estimation technique from Chapter 5 with the PVPR framework to obtain a complete power estimation CAD tool flow. Section 6.1 de scribes the overall flow and the modifications we made to PVPR. Section 6.2 describes the processing of two benchmark circuits through the entire flow and compares our estimates against PrimePower simulations of the circuits. 6.1 Overall Flow 6.1.1 Functionality Our CAD tool flow for estimating the power dissipated in FPGA circuits containing em bedded DSP blocks is shown in Figure 6.1. The activity estimation and power estimation are performed as described in Chapters 4 and 5. The steps in the box on the left correspond to activity estimation. For activity esti mation, there are three inputs: (1) the user's circuit, (2) a Verilog description of the DSP block, and (3) input statistics (either as vectors for the circuit inputs or the transition density and static probability of each input). To facilitate architectural investigations, Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 74 Parameterized DSP Block verilog Generator User's Circuit 1 Tech Map with Quartus II DSP Block Verilog Description Synthesize to Gates with DC 1__L~ Flatten Circuit DSPs to Gates Vectors, or D(x) and Pi ACE-2.0 Activity Data Technology Library Training Set of Input Vector Files i Simulate with Vonlog-XL I Analyze Power with PrimePower Timing charact. Power charact. of DSP of DSP Architecture File Enhanced T-VPACK/VPP. with Poon model Power Analysis Report for Circuit with DSP Blocks Figure 6.1: Power Estimation Tool Flow we created a parameterized DSP block generator to automate the production of Verilog descriptions for a large number of DSP architectures. The DSP block description is syn thesized to a gate-level netlist using Synopsys Design Compiler and a TSMC 0.18 fj,m technology library. The HDL description of the user's circuit is technology mapped to LUTs, flip-flops and DSP blocks using Quartus II to produce a mapped netlist of these el ements and their connections. The mapped netlist is flattened by replacing the DSP block instances with the gate-level implementation obtained from Design Compiler. ACE-2.0 is then used to obtain the activity of each node in the flattened circuit, using the input Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 75 statistics that we provided. The steps in the box on the right correspond to power characterization. Recall that, whereas the activity estimation steps must be repeated each time the user's cir cuit changes, the power characterization steps need only be done once when the DSP block is designed and can then be stored as library data. For power characterization, there are two inputs: (1) the gate-level implementation of the DSP block from Design Compiler, and (2) a training set of input vector files. The gate-level implementation is simulated using Verilog-XL and the resulting power determined by PrimePower for the training set of input vector files. The average activity and resulting power for each input vector file in the training set is saved as an activity-power pair in the Lookup Technique table in the PVPR architecture file. The DSP block timing characteristics are also stored in the PVPR architecture file. The activity data for the circuit and the characterization data for the DSP block are then input to PVPR for packing, placement, routing, and power analysis. Currently, the use of Quartus II for technology mapping restricts us to Altera-style DSP blocks; however, Quartus II could be replaced with another technology mapping tool to evaluate different DSP block architectures. 6.1.2 Modifications to PVPR Neither the original version of VPR nor PVPR support circuits with embedded DSP blocks. We enhanced the BLIF netlist format [42] to allow for the specification of DSP blocks. We modified the PVPR architecture file format [21] to include power and timing Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 76 numbers for these blocks (including the power look-up table proposed in Chapter 5); Table 6.1 describes the parameters we added. We assumed that DSP blocks are arranged in columns, as in Altera and Xilinx devices. We modified the placement algorithm to correctly position these blocks, modified the timing analysis algorithm to estimate the delay through these blocks, and use this information to calculate the critical path of an implementation [51]. We then modified the power model to use the Lookup Technique for DSP blocks. Table 6.1: Parameters added to the PVPR Architecture File Format Parameter Meaning Start First column of DSP blocks Repetition Number of columns before next column of DSP blocks Class Nature of the DSP input and output pins Location Locations around the DSP block where the input and output pins can be programmably connected to the routing fabric Leakage Leakage power dissipated by the DSP block Activity Look-up value for activity in an activity-power pair Energy Energy dissipated for a given Activity in an activity-power pair (Energy is used to be independent of clock frequency) 6.2 Flow Demonstration and Comparison to Gate-Level Simulation 6.2.1 Motivation The experiments in Chapter 5 consider the DSP blocks as stand-alone elements; random inputs are used and all bits have approximately the same average activity. When a DSP Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 77 block exists in a larger circuit, however, it may be located downstream from other logic; each bit in the input operands may have a different activity. This section demonstrates the functionality of our CAD tool flow using two benchmark circuits from [52] and compares our results with a more accurate method (using the same inputs) to see how much accuracy is sacrificed to obtain fast estimates. 6.2.2 Terminology As this section discusses the simulation of multiple circuits, it is important to clarify the terminology we will use. The test circuits (the FIR filter and differential equation solver) will be refered to as the parent circuit or circuit. The circuit will contain multiple instances of a DSP block. The DSP block is described by the DSP Block Verilog Description in Figure 6.1. The instances will be referred to as DSP block instances. Figure 6.2 shows the circuit (in white) with instances (in grey) of a DSP block, which is shown to the right. circuit DSP block instances DSP block DSP1 DSP2 Figure 6.2: Terminology Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 78 FIR Filter Figure 6.3: fir_3_8_8: FIR Filter Circuit 6.2.3 Methodology Demonstration of Power Estimation Tool Flow To demonstrate the functionality of our flow, we ran it on two benchmark circuits from [52]. The first circuit is fir_3_8_8, the FIR filter shown in Figure 6.3, which uses embedded multipliers; it consists of 272 LUTs, 148 flip-flops, and 4 multipliers. The second circuit is diffeq_paj_convert, a differential equation solver, shown in Figure 6.4; it consists of 850 LUTs, 193 flip-flops, and 3 DSP blocks. The differential equation solver uses a DSP block configuration similar to one found in Altera Stratix devices. This block is shown in Figure 6.5; it combines four 18-bit multipliers with a dedicated adder to make a 36-bit multiplier. For both example DSP blocks, a look-up table of activity-power pairs had been created offline, using Lookup Technique characterization as described in Chapter 5. For each circuit we performed the characterization part of the flow only once and ran an iteration of the rest of the flow for each input vector file. For each activity in the set {0.25, 0.50, 0.75}, we created five input files of 5000 vectors having that average activity, for a total of 15 input files. Note that the width of these vectors is equal to the number Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 79 of inputs of the parent circuit. The purpose of providing vectors instead of activity and static probability values for each bit is that ACE-2.0 performs simulation for sequential feedback loops. If only activity and static probability values are given to ACE-2.0, then it randomly generates vectors for simulation. However, since we wanted to compare our results against a PrimePower simulation, we needed to provide the same set of vector files to both estimation tools. Figure 6.4: Differential Equation Solver Circuit Comparison against PrimePower For these experiments we compared the results from our Power Estimation Tool Flow against PrimePower. The pseudocode for the methodology is given in Figure 6.6 and Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 80 Figure 6.5: 18-bit x 18-bit multipliers combined for 36-bit x 36-bit multiplier described below. The same input vectors were used for both the Power Estimation Tool Flow and the simulation approaches. We assumed that the primary inputs to the parent circuit were free of glitching. To determine the power dissipated by each DSP block instance using simulation, we used the flow shown in Figure 6.7. To determine the power of each DSP block instance, we had to determine the input waveforms to each DSP block instance separately. It is incorrect to assume that the DSP block instances will have identical input waveforms, because the logic upstream of (leading up to) each DSP block instance in the parent circuit may not be identical. Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 81 Synthesize Verilog description of DSP block to gates in Design Compiler (already done for Power Estimation Tool Flow); Create simulation model of circuit in Quartus II; For avg_act in (0.25, 0.50, 0.75) { For trial in (1 to 5) { Create input vector set V of 5000 vectors with activity avg_act and width equal to number of primary inputs in circuit; Apply input vector set to circuit sim model using testbench_cct; Use ModelSim to simulate and generate VCD; For each DSP block instance i in circuit { Parse VCD for input waveforms to this DSP instance; Apply waveforms at DSP instance inputs using testbench_dsp_i; Use Verilog-XL to simulate; Use PrimePower to calculate power of DSP instance i (when circuit is stimulated by input vector set V); } } } Figure 6.6: Simulation Flow Pseudocode To obtain the input waveforms to each DSP block instance, we used Quartus II to generate a simulation model of the parent circuit. Since we used Quartus II to technology map the circuits in the Power Estimation Tool Flow, the mapped implementations for both methods match. We used ModelSim to simulate the circuit and generate a Value Change Dump (VCD) of the simulation, which is an ASCII file that describes the waveforms for the circuit internal nodes. We then used a VCD parser to extract the waveforms corresponding to the inputs of each DSP block instance. To obtain the simulation power estimates for each vector set, we used the input waveforms for each DSP block instance to simulate the Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 82 •—i Y DSP[3) DSP[2] Quartus II Input Vectors for Parent Circuit To Power Estimation Tool Flow... _ Technology Simulation Mapped Model of Netlist Parent Circuit VCD (waveforms of circuit internal nodes) Waveforms for DSP[1] inputs Waveforms for DSP[2] inputs Waveforms for DSP[3] inputs DSP Block Gate-Level Description Verilog-XL + PnmePower Verilog-XL +1 PnmePower - • . PnmePower lllllilllPltll T r T Simulation power Simulation power Simulation power estlorDSP[1] esttorDSP[2J esttorDSP[3] Figure 6.7: Flow for Determining Simulation Power Estimate of Each DSP Block Instance gate-level implementation of the DSP block using Verilog-XL and PrimePower. 6.2.4 Results Demonstration of Power Estimation Tool Flow The results of the power analysis are shown in Table 6.2. In both circuits, the DSP blocks dominate the power dissipation. This may be surprising because routing power generally dominates the power dissipation in an FPGA. However, the circuits are DSP kernels and not complete systems. Thus, they contain only a small amount of non-DSP logic and substantial routing is internal to the DSP blocks. Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 83 Comparison against PrimePower Tables 6.3 and B.l to B.3 show the detailed results for the FIR filter circuit. Tables 6.4 and B.4 to B.6 show the detailed results for the differential equation solver circuit. The average difference between the Power Estimation Tool Flow and PrimePower results for the FIR circuit was 20.4%. In the differential equation circuit, 2 of the 3 DSP blocks had an average difference of 22-26%, however the third had glitching on one input bus and was off by 77% on average. When creating the lookup table, the blocks had been characterized only for activities 0.1 to 0.9, as it was not clear how to properly imitate glitching. Although we use linear interpolation to determine-the power corresponding to average input activities that are not in the Lookup Technique table, the power relationship is not necessarily linear with respect to DSP input activities. Consequently, it is not surprising that estimates for DSP block instances having an average input activity greater than 1 are not well represented by a linear interpolation using the points for activities 0.8 and 0.9. This indicates the importance of a lookup-table that includes data that considers glitching. Appendix A describes preliminary unsuccessful attempts at including glitching during PrimePower characterizations. Table 6.2: VPR Power Analysis Results Power fir_3_8_8 diffeq_paj .convert Routing 5.46 mW, 18.4% 8.67 mW, 10.0% Logic Blocks 4.04 mW, 13.6% 4.68 mW, 5.6% Clock 1.61 mW, 5.4% 2.57 mW, 2.9% DSP 18.59 mW, 62.6% 70.82 mW, 81.5% Total 29.71 mW 86.74 mW Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 84 Table 6.3: Overall Percentage Error for FIR Filter Results Arithmetic Mean average percentage error 20.4% average for just multiplier instance #0 21.6% average for just multiplier instance #1 19.7% average for just multiplier instance #2 19.6% average for just multiplier instance #3 20.5% Table 6.4: Overall Percentage Error for Differential Equation Solver Results Arithmetic Mean average percentage error 41.7% average for just DSP block instance #0 76.8% average for just DSP block instance #1 22.5% average for just DSP block instance #2 25.8% 6.3 Chapter Summary In this chapter we have demonstrated the functionality of our Power Estimation Tool Flow for estimating the power of FPGA circuits containing embedded DSP blocks, which addresses our requirements laid out in Chapter 3. We have compared our results against simulation using PrimePower. Our fast estimates are within 19% to 26% of the simulated results, except in the case where there is significant glitching at the inputs of the DSP blocks; the glitching case resulted in 77% error. We believe that adding characterization of glitches on the inputs of the DSP blocks is necessary to improve the accuracy of our method; however, it is not immediately clear how this can be done. This will be discussed Chapter 6. Power Estimation Tool Flow 85 as future work in Section 7.2.2. Chapter 7. Conclusion 86 Chapter 7 Conclusion 7.1 Summary and Contributions In this thesis we have described an experimental CAD flow that can be used to estimate the power dissipation of FPGA circuits containing embedded DSP blocks. We identified two technical challenges in creating such a flow: (1) estimating the activity of all nodes in a circuit containing one or more DSP blocks, and (2) estimating the power dissipated within a DSP block quickly and accurately. The first challenge arises because standard activity estimation techniques cannot prop agate activities through these DSP blocks. We address this by replacing each DSP block with a gate-level representation of the block, and using the standard activity techniques on the resulting circuit. The second challenge arises because it is not possible to pre-characterize the DSP block for all possible input patterns and activities. We have shown that reasonable estimates can be obtained by creating a look-up table of power values. In the power model, the look-up table is indexed using the average activity of the block input nodes. We then combined our findings to create a Power Estimation Tool Flow based on the PVPR framework. The impact of our enhanced tool flow is threefold; the existence of Chapter 7. Conclusion 87 a freely available, architecturally flexible FPGA CAD tool that includes power modeling for embedded DSP blocks enables: 1. the investigation of power-aware architectures containing embedded DSP blocks 2. the investigation of power-aware CAD algorithms for FPGA circuits containing em bedded DSP blocks 3. the incorporation of power tradeoffs in the design of user circuits This work is also one of a collection of projects at the University of British Columbia System-on-Chip Lab that each take a step towards the larger goal of enabling power estimation for platform-style FPGA architectures that contain embedded DSP blocks, embedded memories, embedded processors, and multiple clock domains. A poster of our contributions will appear at the 2006 IEEE International Conference on Field Programmable Technology in Bangkok, Thailand. 7.2 Future Work Given our tool flow, there are three enhancements that would be necessary before per forming power-aware FPGA architecture studies that include embedded DSP blocks: (1) a suite of integer benchmarks representative of DSP and arithmetic-intensive user designs, (2) the incorporation of glitch characterization into the look-up data, and (3) board-level verification. Chapter 7. Conclusion 88 7.2.1 Benchmarks A suite of integer benchmarks representative of DSP and arithmetic-intensive user de signs is essential to be able to draw generalizable conclusions from an architectural study targeting embedded DSP blocks. The standard benchmark suite for FPGA studies is the collection of Microelectronics Center of North Carolina (MCNC) circuits; however, these circuits are not very representative of DSP applications. Freely available circuits were obtained from [52] and [53]; however, most were not suitable for our experiments for the reasons listed below: • Some circuits used floating point arithmetic. DSP blocks in commercial FPGAs target integer arithmetic, so our flow does the same. • Some circuits used very simple and small DSP blocks, which would not exercise many of the features in DSP blocks embedded in commercial FPGAs. • Some of the circuits were automatically generated using high-level synthesis. The RTL signal and module names were automatically generated alphanumeric character sequences. This hid the flow of control and data in the circuits and prevented analysis and debugging of the circuits. A very useful future research project would be the creation of circuits for integer DSP and arithmetically intensive applications at the register transfer level. Chapter 7. Conclusion 89 7.2.2 Glitch Characterization The comparison to gate-level simulation in Section 6.2 revealed that glitching may take place on the inputs to the DSP blocks and that it is important to include characterization data in the power estimation look-up table for cases where the activity at the inputs to the DSP blocks is greater than 1. When performing characterization, it was not clear how to properly imitate glitching in our testbenches. Appendix A describes our attempts. Reference [30] describes word-level and bit-level glitch generation and propagation models for characterization of datapath circuits. It would be interesting to incorporate this into our flow and evaluate its effectiveness. 7.2.3 Board-Level Verification When performing power estimation at higher levels of abstraction, as we do with the Lookup Technique, we are trading off accuracy for fast estimation. Consequently, at this level, fidelity is what we seek to provide (i.e. relative accuracy, instead of absolute). In order to verify that our tool flow will provide consistent estimates that provide usable trends, we must compare our results to physical measurements on ah FPGA board. The use of board-level measurements to verify our power model is not trivial. It is not simply a case of downloading our test circuits to boards with FPGAs containing the appropriate DSP blocks and comparing the measured power to our estimates. First, it is not feasible to create custom FPGAs for the set of DSP block architectures under evaluation; layout and fabrication costs are excessive. Second, the power of the DSP blocks alone cannot be measured; typically, we can only measure the total active and Chapter 7. Conclusion 90 quiescent power of the system. Consequently, we cannot simply compare our estimates against the results for a set of commercial FPGA boards. For example, Altera Cyclone II and Xilinx Virtex-II devices contain embedded 18xl8-bit multipliers, and Altera Stratix and Xilinx Virtex-4 devices contain DSP blocks. One possibility is to compare our power estimates for a set of benchmark circuits against the power estimates for four boards containing each of these devices; however, their logic and routing architectures differ, making it impossible to distinguish between deficiencies in the power models for the DSP blocks, the logic blocks, and the interconnect. A starting point for board-level verification could be to compare trends in measured values on a particular FPGA board against trends in the power estimates using the corre sponding architecture description file, for a set of benchmark circuits. The desired result would be to see that the measurements and estimates both rank the power dissipation of the benchmark circuits in the same order. 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Leong, W. Luk, S. J. E. Wilton, and S. Lopez-Buedo, "Virtual Embedded Blocks: A Methodology for Evaluating Embedded Elements in FPGAs," in 14th Annual IEEE Symposium on Field-Programmable Custom Computing Ma chines, 2006. Appendix A. Glitching Characterization Attempt 95 Appendix A Glitching Characterization Attempt This Appendix describes several unsuccessful attempts to account for glitches in the power characterization scheme described in Chapter 5. Figure A.l illustrates the flow we used for characterizing the power of the DSP blocks. A Verilog description of the DSP block was synthesized to gates using Synopsys Design Compiler. A Verilog testbench was used to simulate a set of input vectors applied to the gate-level description of the DSP block in Verilog-XL. The simulation data was then fed to the Synopsys PrimePower simulator to obtain characterization information. For input activities less than one, the testbench applied exactly one vector to the inputs of the DSP block each clock cycle. The activity at each input could be controlled by keeping the value of the bit or changing the value. To attempt to imitate glitching, we generated testbenches where more than one vector was applied during each clock cycle. For example, to attempt to characterize the power for input activities of 1.5, a vector file with activity 0.5 (assuming 1 vector per clock cycle) was read in and 3 vectors were applied each clock cycle. We observed that applying the vectors for a particular clock cycle at equally spaced intervals in the clock cycle, as shown in the testbench pseudocode in Figure A.2, does not imitate glitching properly. $T_fraction is the length of the equally spaced intervals and Appendix A. Glitching Characterization Attempt 96 Technology Library DSP Block Verilog Description Synthesize to Gates with DC Verilog Testbench + Input Vectors Simulate with Verilog-XL Analyze Power with PrimePower Power Estimates Figure A.l: Power Characterization Flow reg [0:$inbits_ind] test_vector_input[0:N-1]; reg [0:$inbits_ind] inputs; task test_top; integer i, j; begin ©(posedge clock); @(negedge clock); reset = 0; ©(posedge clock); for (i=0; (i+$integer_multiple) <= N; i=i+$integer_multiple) begin inputs = test_vector_input[i]; #$T_fraction; inputs = test_vector_input[i+1]; #$T_fraction; inputs = test_vector_input[i+($integer_multiple-1)]; #$T_fraction; ©(posedge clock); end end endtask Figure A.2: Testbench Pseudocode Appendix A. Glitching Characterization Attempt 97 ^integer.multiple is the number of vectors to apply during each clock cycle. For example, from Figure 5.3 we would expect that using a vector file with activity 0.5 (assuming 1 vector per clock cycle) and applying two vectors per cycle to achieve an effective input activity of 1.0 would give PrimePower estimates greater than the results for 0.9 input activity. For a DSP block where only input transitions during the high part of the clock cycle have an effect, the PrimePower estimates were approximately equal to the results for 0.5 input activity instead because only half the transitions had any effect. To avoid this problem, a second method was attempted where %T.fraction was set to half the period divided by $integer_multiple, so that all the vectors would be applied during the high part of the clock cycle. This led to overestimates of the power because, in reality, glitching at the inputs to the DSP block can take place in any part of the clock cycle. To properly imitate glitching for characterization, a more sophisticated testbench gen erator would be required that incorporates some sort of statistical or probabilistic model that dictates when vectors should be applied to the DSP block inputs. Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 98 Appendix B Detailed Results from Comparison Table B.l: FIR Filter Results for 0.25 Average Input Activity Vector Multiplier HHVPR PrimePower % Error Set Energy Energy vec_025_0_a mult_rtl_0 6.93E-11 6.31E-11 9.8% mult_rtl_l 6.92E-11 6.01E-11 15.1% mult_rtl_2 6.92E-11 5.87E-11 . 17.8% mult_rtl_3 6.93E-11 6.07E-11 14.2% vec_025_0_b mult_rtl_0 6.95E-11 6.14E-11 13.1% mult_rtl_l 6.92E-11 6.05E-11 14.3% mult_rtl_2 6.93E-11 5.82E-11 19.1% mult_rtl_3 6.97E-11 6.08E-11 14.5% vec_025.0_c mult_rtl_0 6.95E-11 6.32E-11 10.0% mult_rtl_l 6.93E-11 5.92E-11 17.1% mult_rtl_2 6.95E-11 5.95E-11 16.8% mult_rtl_3 6.95E-11 6.12E-11 13.5% vec_025_0_d mult_rtl_0 6.92E-11 6.24E-11 10.9% mult_rtl_l 6.91E-11 5.90E-11 17.2% mult_rtl_2 6.96E-11 5.93E-11 17.3% mult_rtl_3 6.96E-11 6.02E-11 15.5% vec_025_0_e mult_rtl_0 6.95E-11 ' 6.25E-11 11.2% mult_rtl_l 6.95E-11 6.06E-11 14.7% mult_rtl_2 6.95E-11 5.92E-11 17.3% mult_rtl_3 6.97E-11 6.17E-11 12.9% average percentage error 14.6% average for just multiplier instance #0 11.0% average for just multiplier instance #1 15.7% average for just multiplier instance #2 17.7% average for just multiplier instance #3 14.1% Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 99 Table B.2: FIR Filter Results for 0.50 Average Input Activity Vector Set Multiplier HHVPR Energy PrimePower Energy % Error vec_050_0_a mult_rtl_0 8.92E-11 1.09E-10 18.2% mult_rtl_l 8.90E-11 1.04E-10 14.4% mult_rtl_2 8.95E-11 1.04E-10 14.0% mult_rtl_3 8.93E-11 1.06E-10 15.5% vec_050_0.b mult_rtl_0 8.92E-11 1.10E-10 19.2% mult_rtl_l 8.92E-11 1.04E-10 14.1% mult_rtl_2 8.94E-11 1.03E-10 13.4% mult_rtl_3 8.92E-11 1.07E-10 16.2% vec_050_0_c mult_rtl_0 8.93E-11 1.11E-10 19.4% mult_rtl_l 8.92E-11 1.04E-10 14.2% mult_rtl22 8.95E-11 1.04E-10 14.2% mult_rtl_3 8.95E-11 1.06E-10 15.4% vec_050_0_d mult_rtl_0 8.91E-11 1.07E-10 16.8% mult _rtl_l 8.94E-11 1.05E-10 15.0% mult_rtl_2 8.90E-11 1.01E-10 12.3% mult_rtl_3 8.94E-11 1.07E-10 16.2% yec_050.0.e mult_rtl_0 8.93E-11 1.12E-10 20.6% mult_rtl_l 8.92E-11 1.04E-10 14.5% mult_rtl_2 mult_rtl_3 8.94E-11 8.92E-11 1.02E-10 1.06E-10 12.2% 15.7% average percentage error 15.6% average for just multiplier instance #0 18.9% average for just multiplier instance #1 14.4% average for just multiplier instance #2 13.2% average for just multiplier instance #3 15.8% Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 100 Table B.3: FIR Filter Results for 0.75 Average Input Activity Vector Multiplier HHVPR PrimePower % Error Set Energy Energy vec_075_0_a mult_rtl_0 9.97E-11 1.52E-10 34.3% mult_rtl_l 9.96E-11 1.42E-10 29.7% mult_rtl_2 9.95E-11 1.38E-10 27.9% mult_rtl_3 9.96E-11 1.44E-10 30.7% vec_075_0_b mult_rtl_0 9.96E-11 1.52E-10 34.6% mult_rtl_l 9.96E-11 1.41E-10 29.2% mult_rtl_2 9.97E-11 1.38E-10 27.7% mult_rtl_3 9.96E-11 1.43E-10 30.5% vec_075_0_c mult_rtl_0 9.96E-11 1.49E-10 33.3% mult_rtl_l 9.95E-11 1.41E-10 29.4% mult_rtlJ2 9.95E-11 1.38E-10 27.7% mult_rtl_3 9.96E-11 1.47E-10 32.4% vec_075_0.d mult_rtl_0 9.96E-11 1.55E-10 35.8% mult_rtl_l 9.97E-11 1.39E-10 28.3% mult_rtl_2 9.97E-11 1.41E-10 29.4% mult_rtl_3 9.97E-11 . 1.50E-10 33.6% vec_075_0_e mult_rtl_0 9.96E-11 1.55E-10 35.9% mult_rtl_l 9.96E-11 1.39E-10 28.4% mult_rtl_2 9.97E-11 1.37E-10 27.4% mult_rtl_3 9.96E-11 1.44E-10 30.9% average percentage error 30.9% average for just multiplier instance #0 34.8% average for just multiplier instance #1 29.0% average for just multiplier instance #2 28.0% average for just multiplier instance #3 31.6% Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 101 Table B.4: Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.25 Average Input Activity Vector Set DSP Block PVPR Energy PrimePower Energy % Error vec_025_0_a dspblockO 9.51E-10 4.16E-09 77.1% dspblockl 1.01E-09 1.52E-09 33.3% dspblock2 1.12E-09 1.65E-09 32.2% vec.025.0_b dspblockO 9.04E-10 4.03E-09 77.6% dspblockl 1.04E-09 1.33E-09 21.8% dspblock2 1.23E-09 1.58E-09 22.2% vec.025.0-c dspblockO 8.95E-10 3.88E-09 76.9% dspblockl 1.01E-09 1.28E-09 21.2% dspblock2 1.23E-09 1.49E-09 17.4% vec.025.0_d dspblockO 1.05E-09 4.24E-09 75.4% dspblockl 1.04E-09 1.31E-09 21.0% dspblock2 1.17E-09 1.73E-09 32.1% vec.025.0_e dspblockO 8.02E-10 3.76E-09 78.7% dspblockl 1.00E-09 1.22E-09 17.7% dspblock2 1.12E-09 1.27E-09 12.0% average percentage error 41.1% average for just DSP block instance #0 77.1% average for just DSP block instance #1 23.0% average for just DSP block instance #2 23.2% Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 102 Table B.5: Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.50 Average Input Activity Vector Set DSP Block PVPR Energy PrimePower Energy % Error vec.050_0_a dspblockO 8.88E-10 3.79E-09 76.6% dspblockl 1.06E-09 1.22E-09 12.9% dspblock2 1.26E-09 1.51E-09 16.9% vec_050_0_b dspblockO 9.24E-10 3.88E-09 76.2% dspblockl 1.06E-09 1.36E-09 21.9% dspblock2 1.29E-09 1.66E-09 22.5% vec_050.0.c dspblockO 8.78E-10 4.14E-09 78.8% dspblockl 1.05E-09 1.73E-09 39.2% dspblock2 1.20E-09 1.75E-09 31.6% vec.050.0_d dspblockO 9.59E-10 3.97E-09 75.9% dspblockl 1.04E-09 1.38E-09 24.8% dspblock2 1.28E-09 1.54E-09 16.9% vec.050_0_e dspblockO 9.19E-10 3.87E-09 76.2% dspblockl 1.06E-09 1.25E-09 15.1% dspblock2 1.31E-09 1.62E-09 19.0% average percentage error 40.3% average for just DSP block instance #0 76.7% average for just DSP block instance #1 22.8% average for just DSP block instance #2 21.4% Appendix B. Detailed Results from Comparison 103 Table B.6: Differential Equation Solver Results for 0.75 Average Input Activity Vector Set DSP Block PVPR Energy PrimePower Energy % Error vec_075_0_a dspblockO 8.95E-10 3.89E-09 77.0% dspblockl 1.03E-09 1.44E-09 28.4% dspblock2 1.23E-09 1.61E-09 23.5% vec_075_0_b dspblockO 8.70E-10 3.82E-09 77.2% dspblockl 1.01E-09 1.25E-09 19.3% dspblock2 1.27E-09 1.64E-09 22.7% vec_075_0_c dspblockO 8.83E-10 3.78E-09 76.6% dspblockl 1.01E-09 1.26E-09 19.7% dspblock2 1.27E-09 1.62E-09 21.6% vec_075.0_d dspblockO 9.13E-10 3.94E-09 76.8% dspblockl 1.03E-09 1.40E-09 26.2% dspblock2 1.24E-09 1.69E-09 26.5% vec_075_0_e dspblockO 9.37E-10 3.84E-09 75.6% dspblockl 1.01E-09 1.19E-09 14.9% dspblock2 1.18E-09 3.84E-09 69.3% average percentage error 43.7% average for just DSP block instance #0 76.7% average for just DSP block instance #1 21.7% average for just DSP block instance #2 32.7%
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Activity-based power estimation and characterization of DSP and multiplier blocks in FPGAs Choy, Nathalie Chan King 2006
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Title | Activity-based power estimation and characterization of DSP and multiplier blocks in FPGAs |
Creator |
Choy, Nathalie Chan King |
Date | 2006 |
Date Issued | 2010-01-08T19:44:22Z |
Description | Battery-powered applications and the scaling of process technologies and clock frequencies have made power dissipation a first class concern among FPGA vendors. One approach to reduce power dissipation in FPGAs is to embed coarse-grained fixed-function blocks that implement certain types of functions very efficiently. Commercial FPGAs contain embedded multipliers and "Digital Signal Processing (DSP) blocks" to improve the performance and area efficiency of arithmetic-intensive applications. In order to evaluate the power saved by using these blocks, a power model and tool flow are required. This thesis describes our development and evaluation of methods to estimate the activity and the power dissipation of FPGA circuits containing embedded multiplier and DSP blocks. Our goal was to find a suitable balance between estimation time, modeling effort, and accuracy. We incorporated our findings to create a power model and CAD tool flow for these circuits. Our tool flow builds upon the Poon power model, and the Versatile Place and Route (VPR) CAD tool, which are both standard academic experimental infrastructure. |
Genre |
Thesis/Dissertation |
Type |
Text |
Language | eng |
Collection |
Retrospective Theses and Dissertations, 1919-2007 |
Series | UBC Retrospective Theses Digitization Project |
Date Available | 2010-01-08 |
Provider | Vancouver : University of British Columbia Library |
Rights | For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use. |
DOI | 10.14288/1.0064950 |
Degree |
Master of Applied Science - MASc |
Program |
Electrical and Computer Engineering |
Affiliation |
Applied Science, Faculty of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of |
Degree Grantor | University of British Columbia |
Graduation Date | 2006-11 |
Campus |
UBCV |
Scholarly Level | Graduate |
URI | http://hdl.handle.net/2429/17877 |
Aggregated Source Repository | DSpace |
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