Bespoke processors for applications with ultra-low area and power constraints

Hari Cherupalli, Henry Duwe, Weidong Ye, Rakesh Kumar, John Sartori

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A large number of emerging applications such as implantables, wearables, printed electronics, and IoT have ultra-low area and power constraints. These applications rely on ultra-low-power general purpose microcontrollers and microprocessors, making them the most abundant type of processor produced and used today. While general purpose processors have several advantages, such as amortized development cost across many applications, they are significantly over-provisioned for many area-and power-constrained systems, which tend to run only one or a small number of applications over their lifetime. In this paper, we make a case for bespoke processor design, an automated approach that tailors a general purpose processor IP to a target application by removing all gates from the design that can never be used by the application. Since removed gates are never used by an application, bespoke processors can achieve significantly lower area and power than their general purpose counterparts without any performance degradation. Also, gate removal can expose additional timing slack that can be exploited to increase area and power savings or performance of a bespoke design. Bespoke processor design reduces area and power by 62% and 50%, on average, while exploiting exposed timing slack improves average power savings to 65%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationISCA 2017 - 44th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781450348928
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event44th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture - ISCA 2017 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Jun 24 2017Jun 28 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings - International Symposium on Computer Architecture
VolumePart F128643
ISSN (Print)1063-6897


Other44th Annual International Symposium on Computer Architecture - ISCA 2017


  • Application-specific processors
  • Bespoke processors
  • Hardware-software co-analysis
  • Internet of Things
  • Ultra-low-power processors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture


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