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Clustered Architectures with GALS Clocking Schemes

Tuesday September 24, 2002
Hamerschlag Hall D-210
4:30 p.m.

Katrina Zwicker

Carnegie Mellon University

As clock frequency increases, global clock distribution becomes increasingly problematic. The resulting clock skew and high power dissipation negatively impact system functionality and cost. These problems can be overcome by removing the clock entirely-by using a self-timed architecture-but this methodology has its own set of difficulties, such as a lack of asynchronous design tools and the reluctance of industry to break from the long-standing and proven paradigm of synchronous designs. A globally asynchronous, locally synchronous (GALS) approach, however, can serve as in an intermediate step between synchronicity and asynchronicity.

Several GALS designs have been proposed and have had reasonable power-performance tradeoffs, when the different synchronous regions are clocked at different speeds. However, the proposed designs dispatch instructions to issue queues based on instruction type. While this is the standard method, it may not be the best, because it implicitly assumes that all instructions are equally important. Recent studies have shown that some instructions have a greater impact on execution time than others. Since that is true, this assumption reduces the flexibility offered by different clocking regions.

In this project, we explore the impact on a GALS system of dispatching instructions to issue queues based on criticality instead of type. Critical instructions will be sent to fast queues while less critical queues will be sent to slower ones. We hope to show that this technique yields a better power-performance ratio than previously proposed GALS designs. In this talk, I will describe the proposed architecture in detail, discuss an unexpected complication, and present preliminary results.

Katrina Zwicker is a M.S. student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her B.S. in Computer Engineering from Clemson University in 2000. Currently, she is a member of the EnyAC research group led by Prof. Diana Marculescu. Her research focuses on exploring low power and energy aware microarchitectures.



Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringCarnegie Mellon UniversitySchool of Computer Science