doi: 10.7873/DATE.2015.0512

Profiling-Driven Multi-Cycling in FPGA High-Level Synthesis

Stefan Hadjis1, Andrew Canis1, Ryoya Sobue2, Yuko Hara-Azumi3, Hiroyuki Tomiyama2 and Jason Anderson1

1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

2Department of Electronic and Computer Engineering, Ritsumeikan University, Shiga, Japan

3Department of Communications and Compuer Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokyo, Japan.


Multi-cycling is a well-known strategy to improve performance in digital design, wherein the required time for selected combinational paths is lengthened to multiple clock cycles (rather than just one). The approach can be applied to paths associated with computations whose results are not needed immediately – such paths are allowed multiple clock cycles to “complete”, reducing the opportunity for them to form the critical path of the circuit. In this paper, we consider multi-cycling in the high-level synthesis context (HLS) and use software profiling to guide multicycling optimizations. Specifically, prior to HLS, we execute the program in software with typical datasets to gather data on the number of times each code segment executes. During HLS, we then extend the schedule for infrequently executed code segments and apply multi-cycling to the dilated schedules, which exhibit greater opportunities for multi-cycling. In essence, our approach ensures that non-frequently executed code segments will not form the critical path of the HLS-generated circuit. In an experimental study targeting the Altera Stratix IV FPGA, we evaluate the impact on speed performance and area for both traditional multicycling, as well as the proposed software profiling-driven multicycling, and show that profiling-driven multi-cycling leads to an average speedup of over 10% across 13 benchmark circuits, with some circuit speedups in excess of 30%. Circuit area is reduced by 11%, yielding a mean 20% improvement in area-delay product.

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