Infoscience

Journal article

EGRA: A Coarse Grained Reconfigurable Architectural Template

Reconfigurable arrays combine the benefit of spatial execution, typical of hardware solutions, with that of programmability, present in microprocessors. When mapping software applications (or parts of them) onto hardware, however, fine-grain arrays, such as field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), often provide more flexibility than is needed, and do not implement coarser-level operations efficiently. Therefore, coarse grained reconfigurable arrays (CGRAs) have been proposed to this aim. Most CGRA design emerged in research present ad-hoc solutions in many aspects; in this paper we propose an architectural template to enable design space exploration of different possible CGRA designs. We called the template expression-grained reconfigurable array (EGRA), as its ability to generate complex computational cells, executing expressions as opposed to single operations, is a defining feature. Other notable EGRA characteristics include the ability to support heterogeneous cells and different storage requirements through various memory interfaces. The performed design explorations, as shown trough the experimental data provided, can effectively drive designers to further close the performance gap between reconfigurable and hardwired logic by providing guidelines on architectural design choices. Performance results on a number of embedded applications show that EGRA instances can be used as a reconfigurable fabric for customizable processors, outperforming more traditional CGRA designs.

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