LCS Publication Details
Publication Title: A Quantitative Comparison of Reconfigurable, Tiled, and Conventional Architectures on Bit-level Computation
Publication Author: Wentzlaff, David
Additional Authors: Anant Agarwal
LCS Document Number: MIT-LCS-TR-944
Publication Date: 4-13-2004
LCS Group: Computer Architecture
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General purpose computing architectures are being called on to work on a more diverse application mix every day. This has been fueled by the need for reduced time to market and economies of scale that are the hallmarks of software on general purpose microprocessors. As this application mix expands, application domains such as bit-level computation, which has primarily been the domain of ASICs and FPGAs, will need to be effectively handled by general purpose hardware. Examples of bit-level applications include Ethernet framing, forward error correction encoding/decoding, and efficient state machine implementation. In this paper we compare how differing computational structures such as ASICs, FPGAs, tiled architectures, and superscalar microprocessors are able to compete on bit-level communication applications. A quantitative comparison in terms of absolute performance and performance per area will be presented. These results show that although modest gains~(2-3x) in absolute performance can be achieved when using FPGAs versus tuned microprocessor implementations, it is the significantly larger gains~(2-3 orders of magnitude) that can be achieved in performance per area that will motivate work on supporting bit-level computation in a general purpose fashion in the future.
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