Virtual floating-point units for low-power embedded processors

Syed Zohaib Gilani, Nam Sung Kim, Michael Schulte

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

Abstract

Floating-point (FP) arithmetic is becoming increasingly common in many embedded applications. Typically these applications execute in battery-powered, energy-constrained environments. Due to their tight area and power constraints, however, embedded processors often do not incorporate dedicated FP hardware. Instead, they only support fixed-point (FxP) arithmetic at the expense of considerably increased programming complexity and longer runtimes. In this paper, we propose low-overhead approaches to support FP arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication, fused multiply-add) without incurring the high area and power penalties of dedicated FP hardware. Our approaches utilize the existing FxP execution resources in processors plus a small amount of additional hardware to support FP operations. Compared to a baseline processor with dedicated FP hardware, a processor with our approaches can reduce the area and power consumption by 24% and 31%, respectively. We also demonstrate that a processor using our approaches improves energy efficiency and performance by nearly 30%.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationProceedings - 2012 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Application-Specific Systems, Architectures and Processors, ASAP 2012
Pages61-68
Number of pages8
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes
Event2012 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Application-Specific Systems, Architectures and Processors, ASAP 2012 - Delft, Netherlands
Duration: Jul 9 2012Jul 11 2012

Other

Other2012 IEEE 23rd International Conference on Application-Specific Systems, Architectures and Processors, ASAP 2012
CountryNetherlands
CityDelft
Period7/9/127/11/12

Keywords

  • DSP
  • floating-point
  • low-power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications

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