From Circuits to SoC Processors: Arithmetic Approximation Techniques Embedded Computing Methodologies for DSP Acceleration

by   Vasileios Leon, et al.

The computing industry is forced to find alternative design approaches and computing platforms to sustain increased power efficiency, while providing sufficient performance. Among the examined solutions, Approximate Computing, Hardware Acceleration, and Heterogeneous Computing have gained great momentum. In this Dissertation, we introduce design solutions and methodologies, built on top of the preceding computing paradigms, for the development of energy-efficient DSP and AI accelerators. In particular, we adopt the promising paradigm of Approximate Computing and apply new approximation techniques in the design of arithmetic circuits. The proposed arithmetic approximation techniques involve bit-level optimizations, inexact operand encodings, and skipping of computations, while they are applied in both fixed- and floating-point arithmetic. We also conduct an extensive exploration on combinations among the approximation techniques and propose a low-overhead scheme for seamlessly adjusting the approximation degree of our circuits at runtime. Based on our methodology, these arithmetic approximation techniques are then combined with hardware design techniques to implement approximate ASIC- and FPGA-based DSP and AI accelerators. Moreover, we propose methodologies for the efficient mapping of DSP/AI kernels on distinctive embedded devices, i.e., the space-grade FPGAs and the heterogeneous VPUs. On the one hand, we cope with the decreased flexibility of the space-grade technology and the technical challenges that arise in new FPGA tools. On the other hand, we unlock the full potential of heterogeneity by exploiting all the diverse processors and memories. Based on our methodology, we efficiently map computer vision algorithms onto the radiation-hardened NanoXplore's FPGAs and accelerate DSP CNN kernels on Intel's Myriad VPUs.


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