RISC-V Ultra-Low-Power Edge Accelerators (EPFL)


A technical paper titled “X-HEEP: An Open-Source, Configurable and Extendible RISC-V Microcontroller for the Exploration of Ultra-Low-Power Edge Accelerators” was published by researchers at EPFL.


“The field of edge computing has witnessed remarkable growth owing to the increasing demand for real-time processing of data in applications. However, challenges persist due to limitations in performance and power consumption. To overcome these challenges, heterogeneous architectures have emerged that combine host processors with specialized accelerators tailored to specific applications, leading to improved performance and reduced power consumption. However, most of the existing platforms lack the necessary configurability and extendability options for integrating custom accelerators. To overcome these limitations, we introduce in this paper the eXtendible Heterogeneous Energy-Efficient Platform (X-HEEP). X-HEEP is an open-source platform designed to natively support the integration of ultra-low-power edge accelerators. It provides customization options to match specific application requirements by exploring various core types, bus topologies, addressing modes, memory sizes, and peripherals. Moreover, the platform prioritizes energy efficiency by implementing low-power strategies, such as clock-gating and power-gating. We demonstrate the real-world applicability of X-HEEP by providing an integration example tailored for healthcare applications that includes a coarse-grained reconfigurable array (CGRA) and in-memory computing (IMC) accelerators. The resulting design, called HEEPocrates, has been implemented both in field programmable gate array (FPGA) on the Xilinx Zynq-7020 chip and in silicon with TSMC 65 nm low-power CMOS technology. We run a set of healthcare applications and measure their energy consumption to demonstrate the alignment of our chip with other state-of-the-art microcontrollers commonly adopted in this domain. Moreover, we showcase the energy benefit of 4.9 x gained by exploiting the integrated CGRA accelerator, compared to running on the host CPU.”

Find the technical paper here. Published January 2024 (preprint).

Machetti, Simone, Pasquale Davide Schiavone, Thomas Christoph Müller, Miguel Peón-Quirós, and David Atienza. “X-HEEP: An Open-Source, Configurable and Extendible RISC-V Microcontroller for the Exploration of Ultra-Low-Power Edge Accelerators.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2401.05548 (2024).

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