Design and synthesis of a high-performance, hyper-programmable DSP on an FPGA

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Title: Design and synthesis of a high-performance, hyper-programmable DSP on an FPGA
Author: Nichols, Stephen
Abstract: In the field of high performance digital signal processing, DSPs and FPGAs provide the most flexibility. Due to the extensive customization available on FPGAs, DSP algorithm implementation on an FPGA exhibits an increased development time over programming a processor. Because of this, traditional DSPs typically yield a faster time to market than an FPGA design. However, it is often desirable to have the ASIC-like performance that is attainable through the additional customization and parallel computation available through an FPGA. This can be achieved through the class of processors known as hyper-programmable DSPs. A hyper-programmable DSP is a DSP in which multiple aspects of the architecture are programmable. This thesis contributes such a DSP, targeted for high-performance and realized in hardware using an FPGA. The design consists of both a scalar datapath and a vector datapath capable of parallel operations, both of which are extensively customizable. To aid in the design of the datapaths, graphical tools are introduced as an efficient way to modify the design. A tool was also created to supply a graphical interface to help write instructions for the vector datapath. Additionally, an adaptive assembler was created to convert assembly programs to machine code for any datapath design. The resulting design was synthesized for a Cyclone III FPGA. The synthesis resulted in a design capable of running at 135MHz with 61% of the logic used by processing elements. Benchmarks were run on the design to evaluate its performance. The benchmarks showed similar performance between the proposed design and commercial DSPs for the simple benchmarks but significant improvement for the more complex ones.
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Date: 2011-04

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