FPGA Energy Efficiency by Leveraging Thermal Margin

11/17/2019 ∙ by Behnam Khaleghi, et al. ∙ 0

Cutting edge FPGAs are not energy efficient as conventionally presumed to be, and therefore, aggressive power-saving techniques have become imperative. The clock rate of an FPGA-mapped design is set based on worst-case conditions to ensure reliable operation under all circumstances. This usually leaves a considerable timing margin that can be exploited to reduce power consumption by scaling voltage without lowering clock frequency. There are hurdles for such opportunistic voltage scaling in FPGAs because (a) critical paths change with designs, making timing evaluation difficult as voltage changes, (b) each FPGA resource has particular power-delay trade-off with voltage, (c) data corruption of configuration cells and memory blocks further hampers voltage scaling. In this paper, we propose a systematical approach to leverage the available thermal headroom of FPGA-mapped designs for power and energy improvement. By comprehensively analyzing the timing and power consumption of FPGA building blocks under varying temperatures and voltages, we propose a thermal-aware voltage scaling flow that effectively utilizes the thermal margin to reduce power consumption without degrading performance. We show the proposed flow can be employed for energy optimization as well, whereby power consumption and delay are compromised to accomplish the tasks with minimum energy. Lastly, we propose a simulation framework to be able to examine the efficiency of the proposed method for other applications that are inherently tolerant to a certain amount of error, granting further power saving opportunity. Experimental results over a set of industrial benchmarks indicate up to 36 power reduction with the same performance, and 66 energy is the optimization target.

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