Program-to-Circuit: Exploiting GNNs for Program Representation and Circuit Translation

by   Nan Wu, et al.

Circuit design is complicated and requires extensive domain-specific expertise. One major obstacle stuck on the way to hardware agile development is the considerably time-consuming process of accurate circuit quality evaluation. To significantly expedite the circuit evaluation during the translation from behavioral languages to circuit designs, we formulate it as a Program-to-Circuit problem, aiming to exploit the representation power of graph neural networks (GNNs) by representing C/C++ programs as graphs. The goal of this work is four-fold. First, we build a standard benchmark containing 40k C/C++ programs, each of which is translated to a circuit design with actual hardware quality metrics, aiming to facilitate the development of effective GNNs targeting this high-demand circuit design area. Second, 14 state-of-the-art GNN models are analyzed on the Program-to-Circuit problem. We identify key design challenges of this problem, which should be carefully handled but not yet solved by existing GNNs. The goal is to provide domain-specific knowledge for designing GNNs with suitable inductive biases. Third, we discuss three sets of real-world benchmarks for GNN generalization evaluation, and analyze the performance gap between standard programs and the real-case ones. The goal is to enable transfer learning from limited training data to real-world large-scale circuit design problems. Fourth, the Program-to-Circuit problem is a representative within the Program-to-X framework, a set of program-based analysis problems with various downstream tasks. The in-depth understanding of strength and weaknesses in applying GNNs on Program-to-Circuit could largely benefit the entire family of Program-to-X. Pioneering in this direction, we expect more GNN endeavors to revolutionize this high-demand Program-to-Circuit problem and to enrich the expressiveness of GNNs on programs.


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