A View from the Top: A Virtual Prototyping Blog


ESV – A Megawatts perspective

Rajesh Gupta UCSD put it in clear words: “Low power design for complex chips is a solved issue. Designers have tools and methodologies and getting their job done.”  Game over?

Not really, as debated by the panelists during the Design Automation Conference panel on “From Milliwatts to Megawatts”.  While some of the panelists were still hanging on to do better RTL implementation – albeit making use of more sophisticated approaches with high level synthesis – Nokia and IBM had a much different perspective. Power is a system issue and much of it is determined in how the software stack enables the user to get the most value from the application within the power budget.

On one end of the spectrum is getting the best response time in a data center running expensive Oracle software. Shutting down as many servers as possible within the performance requirements is the answer according to the IBM fellow.

One the other end is managing a smart phone running running out of juice while navigating using Google maps.  Does the phone shut down the music player automatically or does it give the user an option to chose how long the battery will still last; the challenge presented by the Nokia Berkeley research lead.

The architectures to deliver on low power will vary a lot. Essential is that only a systemic view using the software application use cases provides the answer for defining the system architecture and the power management strategy implemented in software. The answer is Electronic System Virtualization, not behavioral hardware synthesis.

Will the 47th DAC next year have a panel on real cases of power optimization at the software level?

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