An Energy Efficient, Linux-Capable RISC-V Host Platform Designed For The Seamless Plug-In And Control Of Domain-Specific Accelerators


A technical paper titled “Cheshire: A Lightweight, Linux-Capable RISC-V Host Platform for Domain-Specific Accelerator Plug-In” was published by researchers at ETH Zurich and University of Bologna.


“Power and cost constraints in the internet-of-things (IoT) extreme-edge and TinyML domains, coupled with increasing performance requirements, motivate a trend toward heterogeneous architectures. These designs use energy-efficient application-class host processors to coordinate compute-specialized multicore accelerators, amortizing the architectural costs of operating system support and external communication. This brief presents Cheshire, a lightweight and modular 64-bit Linux-capable host platform designed for the seamless plug-in of domain-specific accelerators. It features a unique low-pin-count DRAM interface, a last-level cache configurable as scratchpad memory, and a DMA engine enabling efficient data movement to or from accelerators or DRAM. It also provides numerous optional IO peripherals including UART, SPI, I2C, VGA, and GPIOs. Cheshire’s synthesizable RTL description, comprising all of its peripherals and its fully digital DRAM interface, is available free and open-source. We implemented and fabricated Cheshire as a silicon demonstrator called Neo in TSMC’s 65nm CMOS technology. At 1.2 V, Neo achieves clock frequencies of up to 325 MHz while not exceeding 300 mW in total power on data-intensive computational workloads. Its RPC DRAM interface consumes only 250 pJ/B and incurs only 3.5 kGE in area for its PHY while attaining a peak transfer rate of 750 MB/s at 200 MHz.”

Find the technical paper here. Published: May 2023 (preprint)

Ottaviano, Alessandro, Thomas Benz, Paul Scheffler, and Luca Benini. “Cheshire: A Lightweight, Linux-Capable RISC-V Host Platform for Domain-Specific Accelerator Plug-In.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2305.04760 (2023).

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