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Digital archive of theses discussed at the University of Pisa


Thesis etd-03242008-221740

Thesis type
Tesi di dottorato di ricerca
Thesis title
System-on-chip Computing and Interconnection Architectures for Telecommunications and Signal Processing
Academic discipline
Course of study
Relatore Saletti, Roberto
Relatore Prof. Fanucci, Luca
  • configurable macrocell
  • design reuse
  • FFT
  • finite precision analysis
  • hardware architectures
  • Low-Density Parity-Check
  • mesochronous communication
  • Network-on-chip
  • OFDM
  • on-chip interconnection architectures
  • System-on-Chip
Graduation session start date
Release date
This dissertation proposes novel architectures and design techniques targeting SoC building blocks for telecommunications and signal processing applications.

Hardware implementation of Low-Density Parity-Check decoders is approached at both the algorithmic and the architecture level. Low-Density Parity-Check codes are a promising coding scheme for future communication standards due to their outstanding error correction performance.

This work proposes a methodology for analyzing effects of finite precision arithmetic on error correction performance and hardware complexity. The methodology is throughout employed for co-designing the decoder. First, a low-complexity check node based on the P-output decoding principle is designed and characterized on a CMOS standard-cells library. Results demonstrate implementation loss below 0.2 dB down to BER of 10^{-8} and a saving in complexity up to 59% with respect to other works in recent literature. High-throughput and low-latency issues are addressed with modified single-phase decoding schedules. A new "memory-aware" schedule is proposed requiring down to 20% of memory with respect to the traditional two-phase flooding decoding. Additionally, throughput is doubled and logic complexity reduced of 12%. These advantages are traded-off with error correction performance, thus making the solution attractive only for long codes, as those adopted in the DVB-S2 standard. The "layered decoding" principle is extended to those codes not specifically conceived for this technique. Proposed architectures exhibit complexity savings in the order of 40% for both area and power consumption figures, while implementation loss is smaller than 0.05 dB.

Most modern communication standards employ Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing as part of their physical layer. The core of OFDM is the Fast Fourier Transform and its inverse in charge of symbols (de)modulation. Requirements on throughput and energy efficiency call for FFT hardware implementation, while ubiquity of FFT suggests the design of parametric, re-configurable and re-usable IP hardware macrocells. In this context, this thesis describes an FFT/IFFT core compiler particularly suited for implementation of OFDM communication systems. The tool employs an accuracy-driven configuration engine which automatically profiles the internal arithmetic and generates a core with minimum operands bit-width and thus minimum circuit complexity. The engine performs a closed-loop optimization over three different internal arithmetic models (fixed-point, block floating-point and convergent block floating-point) using the numerical accuracy budget given by the user as a reference point. The flexibility and re-usability of the proposed macrocell are illustrated through several case studies which encompass all current state-of-the-art OFDM communications standards (WLAN, WMAN, xDSL, DVB-T/H, DAB and UWB). Implementations results are presented for two deep sub-micron standard-cells libraries (65 and 90 nm) and commercially available FPGA devices. Compared with other FFT core compilers, the proposed environment produces macrocells with lower circuit complexity and same system level performance (throughput, transform size and numerical accuracy).

The final part of this dissertation focuses on the Network-on-Chip design paradigm whose goal is building scalable communication infrastructures connecting hundreds of core. A low-complexity link architecture for mesochronous on-chip communication is discussed. The link enables skew constraint looseness in the clock tree synthesis, frequency speed-up, power consumption reduction and faster back-end turnarounds. The proposed architecture reaches a maximum clock frequency of 1 GHz on 65 nm low-leakage CMOS standard-cells library. In a complex test case with a full-blown NoC infrastructure, the link overhead is only 3% of chip area and 0.5% of leakage power consumption.

Finally, a new methodology, named metacoding, is proposed. Metacoding generates correct-by-construction technology independent RTL codebases for NoC building blocks. The RTL coding phase is abstracted and modeled with an Object Oriented framework, integrated within a commercial tool for IP packaging (Synopsys CoreTools suite). Compared with traditional coding styles based on pre-processor directives, metacoding produces 65% smaller codebases and reduces the configurations to verify up to three orders of magnitude.