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Virtual Prototype driven Application Specific Hardware Optimization

Jan Zielasko; Rolf Drechsler
In: Forum on Specification & Design Languages (FDL). Forum on Specification & Design Languages (FDL-2023), September 13-15, Turin, Italy, 2023.


Most hardware in the area of IoT and embedded systems only ever runs a single application. To reduce the cost and increase performance the hardware can be tailored to this application. Unfortunately, identifying, designing, and evaluating application-specific optimizations is complex and requires significant effort. However, application-specific hardware also performs significantly better compared to using general-purpose processors. Prior work attempts to address this problem via approaches from the Register-Transfer Level (RTL) as well as the application level, with RTL being effective but resource-intensive, while high-level approaches are faster but lack accuracy. In order to combine the advantages of high-level and lowlevel approaches we propose an open source Virtual Prototype (VP) based workflow to automatically identify promising hardware optimization candidates based on recurring patterns. Our results demonstrate that a VP can be used effectively as a starting point for application-specific hardware optimization.