Vector Processing-Aware Advanced Clock-Gating Techniques for Low-Power Fused Multiply-Add
The need for power efficiency is driving a rethink of design decisions in processor architectures. While vector processors succeeded in the high-performance market in the past, they need a retailoring for the mobile market that they are entering now. Floating-point (FP) fused multiply-add (FMA), being a functional unit with high power consumption, deserves special attention. Although clock gating is a well-known method to reduce switching power in synchronous designs, there are unexplored opportunities for its application to vector processors, especially when considering active operating mode. In this research, we comprehensively identify, propose, and evaluate the most suitable clock-gating techniques for vector FMA units (VFUs). These techniques ensure power savings without jeopardizing the timing. We evaluate the proposed techniques using both synthetic and “real-world” application-based benchmarking. Using vector masking and vector multilane-aware clock gating, we report power reductions of up to 52%, assuming active VFU operating at the peak performance. Among other findings, we observe that vector instruction-based clock-gating techniques achieve power savings for all vector FP instructions. Finally, when evaluating all techniques together, using “real-world” benchmarking, the power reductions are up to 80%. Additionally, in accordance with processor design trends, we perform this research in a fully parameterizable and automated fashion.