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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Optimizing network-on-chips for FPGAs Kwa, Jimmy Williamchingyuan

Abstract

As larger System-on-Chip (SoC) designs are attempted on Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), the need for a low cost and high performance Network-on-Chip (NoC) grows. Virtual Channel (VC) routers provide desirable traits for an NoC such as higher throughput and deadlock prevention but at significant resource cost when implemented on an FPGA. This thesis presents an FPGA specific optimization to reduce resource utilization. We propose sharing Block RAMs between multiple router ports to store the high logic resource consuming VC buffers and present the Block RAM Split (BRS) router architecture that implements the proposed optimization. We evaluate the performance of the modifications using synthetic traffic patterns on mesh and torus networks and synthesize the NoCs to determine overall resource usage and maximum clock frequency. We find that the additional logic to support sharing Block RAMs has little impact on Adaptive Logic Module (ALM) usage in designs that currently use Block RAMs while at the same time decreasing Block RAM usage by as much as 40%. In comparison to CONNECT, a router design that does not use Block RAMs, a 71% reduction in ALM usage is shown to be possible. This resource reduction comes at the cost of a 15% reduction in the saturation throughput for uniform random traffic and a 50% decrease in the worst case neighbour traffic pattern on a mesh network. The throughput penalty from the neighbour traffic pattern can be reduced to 3% if a torus network is used. In all cases, there is little change in network latency at low load. BRS is capable of running at 161.71 MHz which is a decrease of only 4% from the base VC router design. Determining the optimum NoC topology is a challenging task. This thesis also proposes initial work towards the creation of an analytical model to assist with finding the best topology to use in an FPGA NoC.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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