Techniques for Energy-Efficient Communication Pipeline Design

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G. Qu and M. Potkonjak. "Techniques for Energy-Efficient Communication Pipeline Design," IEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems, Vol. 10, No. 5, pp. 542-549, October 2002.



The performance of many modern computer and communication systems is dictated by the latency of communication pipelines. At the same time, power/energy consumption is often another limiting factor in many portable systems. We address the problem of how to minimize the power consumption in system-level pipelines under latency constraints. In particular, we apply fragmentation technique to achieve parallelism and exploit advantages provided by variable voltage design methodology to optimally select voltage and, therefore, speed of each pipeline stage.We focus our study on the practical case when each pipeline stage operates at a fixed speed. Unlike the conventional pipeline system, where all stages run at the same speed, our system may have different stages running at different speeds to conserve energy while providing guaranteed latency. For a given latency requirement, we find explicit solutions for the most energy efficient fragmentation and voltage setting. We further study a less practical case when each stage can dynamically change its speed to get further energy saving. We define the problem and transform it to a nonlinear system whose solution provides a lower bound for energy consumption. We apply the obtained theoretical results to develop algorithms for power/energy minimization of computer and communication systems. The experimental result suggests that significant power/energy reduction, is possible without additional latency. In fact, we achieve almost 40% total energy saving over the combined minimal supply voltage selection and system shut-down technique and 85% if none of these two energy minimization methods is used.