ASIP Designer Virtual Seminar

Join us for this half-day virtual seminar to learn more about the power of ASIPs and ASIP Designer

Domain-Specific Processor Design using ASIP Designer

The Fastest Path to Making an Open ISA Your Own

The slow-down of Moore’s law and Dennard scaling triggered an increased awareness for domain-specific processors (also referred to as application-specific processors, or short ASIP). These processors implement a specialized instruction set architecture (ISA) tailored to the application, often starting from a baseline ISA such as RISC-V. 

Designing an ASIP involves a number of tasks: which custom extensions make a difference for a specific application?  How to get to a compiler and a simulator for the specialized architecture, in time? How to confirm the target performance can be reached? Will energy consumption stay within the boundaries? And how to verify such processor? 

Synopsys’ ASIP Designer is the industry-leading tool to design, implement, program and verify custom-designed processors. Starting from a single processor specification efficiently describing the ISA and the micro-architecture, designers immediately get a cycle-accurate simulator, debugger and an optimizing C/C++ Compiler, all supporting the specialized architecture. This allows for a compiler-in-the-loop based tuning of the processor specification, using real application code to benchmark the performance. From the same specification, the RTL code is generated, with synthesis-in-the-loop to measure gate count and to identify and optimize critical paths in the design.

Top semiconductor and systems companies worldwide deploy ASIP Designer for innovative designs on aggressive schedules with limited design teams. 

Join us for this free 2.5h Virtual Seminar to learn more about the power of ASIPs, and how ASIP Designer makes them a reality. The seminar will cover the architectural options to choose from when designing an ASIP. Using examples from the extensive model library that comes with ASIP Designer, we will explain the different concepts of parallelization and specialization, and the tradeoffs that come with it. The seminar will include demonstrations of ASIP Designer as well as an investigation of multiple example designs from the DSP, security, and AI domains.

Agenda

Time

Description

9:00 - 9:30

An Introduction to Domain-Specific Processors, and ASIP Designer

Markus Willems, Sr. Mgr. Product Marketing, Synopsys Germany

Domain-specific processors (also referred to as Application-specific processors, or ASIPs) combine hardware specialization with flexibility through software programmability. This session will introduce the concept of ASIPs, and will provide an overview of Synopsys' ASIP Designer tool-suite. 

9:30 – 10:30

RISC-V ISA Example Models, and the Concept of Simple Datapath eXtensions (SDX)    (includes tool demonstrations for three examples – FFT, secure encode, and AI)

David Florez, Sr. CAE, Synopsys USA

ASIP Designer comes with an extensive library of example ASIP models. These include a wide range of models supporting the RISC-V ISA specification, featuring both 32-bit and 64-bit datapath implementations and various pipeline depths. As the models are provided in nML source code, users are free to modify the processors to customize the ISA and the microarchitecture to their application-specific needs.

For a certain class of instructions, it is now easier than ever to implement such customization of the RISC-V ISA, thanks to ASIP Designer’s SDX approach. Trv-SDX is a new example processor model that implements the RISC-V ISA, and additionally contains user-modifiable-templates for extension instructions.  These templates are encoded using the RISC-V custom-2 opcode space, which has been reserved by the standard to enable custom ISA extensions. The ASIP designer only has to define the behavior of the desired extension instructions in bit-accurate C code.  This makes the concept of ISA extensions simple to define and use

This session will provide an overview of the RISC-V example models, and will demonstrate how the SDX approach allows to quickly design, implement and program, covering three different accelerators featuring FFT, SHA secure hashing and keyword spotting using a neural network.

10:30 - 11:30

Case study: Designing a Programmable AI Accelerator for MobileNet V3 (includes tool demonstrations) 

Dominik Auras, Sr. CAE, Synopsys Germany

To fully maximize the benefits that the ASIP approach makes possible, it is important to be able to consider a wider range of architectural options beyond just simple instruction extension.   For example, both data-level and instruction-level parallelism are important features of advanced ASIPs as well as more highly optimized specialization within datapaths beyond what is possible with simple instruction extension of a fixed base processor.

The power that can be unleashed by ASIP Designer by deploying such architectural design techniques will be illustrated by an example AI processor tuned for the efficient processing of MobileNet graphs. It extends from one of the many RISC-V ISA example models provided in ASIP Designer’s example library, and eventually results in an ASIP with a 4-slot architecture (capable of dispatching 4 instructions in each cycle), that also provides for a 64-MAC vector unit which operates on 8-bit vector data.  Further optimizations are illustrated by showing how the memory access scheme is tuned to the application.


The design process is illustrated starting from an analysis of the algorithm, its suitability for parallelization, and how ASIP Designer’s SDK and RTL generation capabilities allow for an efficient design of a MobileNet ASIP which remains fully C-programmable.