What Do We Do With 10^12 Transistors? The Case For Precision Timing





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Published on Feb 22, 2008

Google Tech Talks
February, 21 2008


It is will be too costly to design many of these chips at the polygon
or even gate level, so they must be highly programmable. Furthermore,
they should not just be FPGAs as we now know them because with that
many transistors, we should specialize more for power efficiency. I
envision FPGA-like chips where the computational elements combine CPUs
with more traditional FPGA-like fabrics.

For embedded real-time applications, which I argue will dominate, I
argue that the temporal behavior of these processors should be as easy
to analyze and control as their functional behavior.

I present a vision such a precision-timed (PRET) processor, which
incorporates a variety of techniques. At the ISA level, it provides
cycle-accurate timers, a predictable memory hierarchy based on
scratchpad memories, and an interleaved pipeline that provides
predictable, hardware-efficient concurrency. It will be programmed in
a C-like language that includes user-specified timing constraints and
concurrency, perhaps with synchronous semantics. Both compile- and
run-time checks will ensure the program meets timing constraints,
similar to array bounds checking.

Speaker: Stephen A. Edwards
Stephen A. Edwards received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering
from the California Institute of Technology in 1992, and the M.S. and
Ph.D degrees, also in Electrical Engineering, from the University of
California, Berkeley in 1994 and 1997 respectively. He is currently
an associate professor in the Computer Science Department of Columbia
University in New York, which he joined in 2001 after a three-year
stint with Synopsys, Inc., in Mountain View, California. His research
interests include embedded system design, domain-specific languages,
and compilers.


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