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An Ultra-Low-Energy, Variation-Tolerant FPGA Architecture Using Component-Specific Mapping


Mehta, Nikil (2013) An Ultra-Low-Energy, Variation-Tolerant FPGA Architecture Using Component-Specific Mapping. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/358S-CW22.


As feature sizes scale toward atomic limits, parameter variation continues to increase, leading to increased margins in both delay and energy. Parameter variation both slows down devices and causes devices to fail. For applications that require high performance, the possibility of very slow devices on critical paths forces designers to reduce clock speed in order to meet timing. For an important and emerging class of applications that target energy-minimal operation at the cost of delay, the impact of variation-induced defects at very low voltages mandates the sizing up of transistors and operation at higher voltages to maintain functionality.

With post-fabrication configurability, FPGAs have the opportunity to self-measure the impact of variation, determining the speed and functionality of each individual resource. Given that information, a delay-aware router can use slow devices on non-critical paths, fast devices on critical paths, and avoid known defects. By mapping each component individually and customizing designs to a component's unique physical characteristics, we demonstrate that we can eliminate delay margins and reduce energy margins caused by variation.

To quantify the potential benefit we might gain from component-specific mapping, we first measure the margins associated with parameter variation, and then focus primarily on the energy benefits of FPGA delay-aware routing over a wide range of predictive technologies (45 nm--12 nm) for the Toronto20 benchmark set. We show that relative to delay-oblivious routing, delay-aware routing without any significant optimizations can reduce minimum energy/operation by 1.72x at 22 nm. We demonstrate how to construct an FPGA architecture specifically tailored to further increase the minimum energy savings of component-specific mapping by using the following techniques: power gating, gate sizing, interconnect sparing, and LUT remapping. With all optimizations considered we show a minimum energy/operation savings of 2.66x at 22 nm, or 1.68--2.95x when considered across 45--12 nm. As there are many challenges to measuring resource delays and mapping per chip, we discuss methods that may make component-specific mapping more practical. We demonstrate that a simpler, defect-aware routing achieves 70% of the energy savings of delay-aware routing. Finally, we show that without variation tolerance, scaling from 16 nm to 12 nm results in a net increase in minimum energy/operation; component-specific mapping, however, can extend minimum energy/operation scaling to 12 nm and possibly beyond.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:FPGA, Component-Specific Mapping, Variation Tolerance, Subthreshold Circuits
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Computer Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • DeHon, Andre
Thesis Committee:
  • Martin, Alain J. (chair)
  • DeHon, Andre
  • Calhoun, Benton H.
  • Emami, Azita
  • Hajimiri, Ali
Defense Date:31 August 2012
Record Number:CaltechTHESIS:10072012-230900231
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:7226
Deposited By: Nikil Mehta
Deposited On:02 Nov 2012 17:23
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 23:57

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