FPGA

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FPGA
Putting the Software Radio on a Low-Calorie Diet
Prabal Dutta, Ye-Sheng Kuo, Akos Ledeczi, Thomas Schmid, Peter Volgyesi
HotNets’10 – Monterey, CA – October 20, 2010
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Software radios have enabled
novel directions in wireless research
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Mobile and low-power wireless research has
not benefitted as much from software radios
Three SDR scaling challenges
• Power (Active and Sleep)
USRP
Mote
– A: USRP (10 W) vs Mote (60 mW)
– S: USRP (10 W?) vs Mote (20 W)
• Cost
– USRP ($850) vs Mote ($65)
– WARP cost >> USRP cost
• Size
– USRP (36 in2) vs Mote (1 in2)
– WARP (64 in2) vs Mote (1 in2)
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Imagine if we could build a small,
inexpensive, and low-power software radio
• Software radios that you could
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Hold in the palm of your hand
Embed in the physical world
Deploy at very large scale
Operate from solar power
Hand out for student labs
• Software radios that would enable
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Mobile networking research
Application-driven research
Large-scale, in situ evaluations
Energy-adaptive communications
Hands-on learning
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Addressing the size, power, and cost challenges
will enable more natural deployment experiences
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Outline
• Introduction
• Scaling Challenges
• Technology Enablers
• Architectural Sketch
• Research Challenges
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Challenge #1: Power
• Low-power systems duty cycle
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Attempt to achieve power proportional operation
Architectures support power control
High CPU and radio power draws
Radio turned off or in standby
CPU halted and put to sleep
• SDRs cannot duty cycle
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Fail to achieve power proportional operation
Architectures do not support it
Processor does not support sleep
SRAM-based FPGA cannot sleep
Radio power controls not exposed
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Challenge #1: Power
(or, why SRAM FPGAs are not power-proportional)
• High in-rush current
• High static power
– Approximately 10x transistors needed
– Increases with smaller transistors
– Increases with lower Vth
• High configuration current (and time)
• Not amenable to efficient duty cycling
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Challenge #2: Size
(or, why modularity is expensive)
• Conventional SDRs
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General-purpose
Highly reconfigurable
Modular platforms
Large size
• Reconfigurable Motes
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Waldo Mote. Src: S. Lanszisera
Application-specific
Modestly reconfigurable
Not modular
Small size
Examples
• Waldo Mote
• Bridge Monitor
Bridge Monitor. Src: P. Volgyesi
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Challenge #3: Cost
(or, why discrete components drive up costs)
• XC4VFX100-10FF1517C FPGA
– 94,896 logic cells
– $2400
• Radio board
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MAX2829
Power Amp
Ant Switch
SMA I/F
AD9777
AD9248
AD9200
http://warp.rice.edu/trac/wiki/HardwarePlatform
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Summary of the scaling challenges
• Power
– SRAM FPGAs have high static power and cannot duty cycle
– SDR architectures do not support power controls
• Size
– Modular designs are large and 3-dimensional
– Discrete chips for RF and baseband pathways take up space
• Cost
– Ultra high-performance FPGAs are expensive
– Discrete chips for RF and baseband pathways is costly
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Outline
• Introduction
• Scaling Challenges
• Technology Enablers
• Architectural Sketch
• Research Challenges
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Emerging mixed-signal FPGAs (e.g. Actel SmartFusion)
• Integrates
– FPGA (200K/500K gates)
– Hard CPU (ARM Cortex-M3)
– Analog Compute Engine (ACE)
• FPGA
– Flash-based
– Low-power
– Logic tiles + SRAM blocks
http://www.actel.com
• CPU
– 100 MHz+ operation
– 64K SRAM / 256K Flash
– FPGA memory-mapped on AHB
• ACE
– 600 ksps ADC/DAC
– Fast comparators
– Simple DSP operations
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CPU and FPGA compute fabrics interfaced via AHB
CPU
FPGA
Source: Actel SmartFusion MSS User Guide
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Flash-based FPGA can be duty cycled
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Low in-rush current
Low static power (W)
No configuration current
No configuration delay
Amenable to duty cycling
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“FlashFreeze” mode
Clock domains suspended
High-impedance I/O
Memory contents preserved
• Limitations
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Slow max speed (10-40 MHz)
Lower gate count (130 nm node)
Long reprogramming time (flash erase/write)
Limited number of programming cycles (~1000)
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Highly-integrated RF transceivers
• Small layout size
– Approx 150 mm2
– Including externals
• Low-power
– Active: ~200-900 mW
– Sleep: ~30 W
• High integration
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RF transceiver
Integrated PA
Integrated RX/TX SW
Integrated diversity SW
• ADCs/DACs
– Integrated in FPGA
– (at least slow ones)
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Outline
• Introduction
• Scaling Challenges
• Technology Enablers
• Architectural Sketch
• Research Challenges
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Architectural sketch of a lean SDR platform
• Mixed-signal FPGA
– Flash-based matrix + PLL
– ARM Cortex CPU (M1 or M3)
– ADC/DAC/Analog Comparator
• 2.4 GHz Radio
– RF-to-baseband
– Osc, Dig Frq Synth
– PA, RX/TX Switch
• Timebase
– 32 kHz TCXO + DCO + VHT
• Power
– DC/DC converters
– Energy metering
• Optional
– 40 Msps ADC / 40 MHz DAC
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Addressing the scaling challenges
• Power
– SRAM FPGAs have high static power  Use Flash-based FPGAs
– SDRs do not support power controls  Support Power Mgmt
• Size
– Modular designs are large  De-modularize the design
– Discrete chips take up space  Leverage IC integration
• Cost
– High-end FPGAs are expensive  Remove, complement with CPU
– Discrete chips are costly  Leverage integration, PCB Ant, …
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A few other odds and ends…
• Power-proportional timer system
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Offers virtual high-resolution time
Balances fast-timer resolution (xx:34)
…with slow-timer power draw (12:xx)
Provides resolution on demand
• Fast radio startup
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Accelerates sleep  active transition
Uses crystal to train ring oscillator
Uses ring oscillator to kickstart crystal
Balances high-Q and fast radio startup
• Regulator-integrated energy meter
– Supports application-level power profiling
– Counts switching cycles of regulator
– Transfers fixed energy quanta per cycle
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Back-of-the-envelope evaluation
Desc
Mfg
Part
Size
Cost
Power (mW)
FPGA
Radio
OSC
PCB
Power
Actel
Maxim
Maxim
4PCB
TI
A2F200M3F
MAX2830
DS32kHz
4-layer PCB
Various
17x17 mm
7x7 mm
11x11 mm
38x63 mm
25x25 mm
$40
$4
$4
$5
$5
TBD*
186/0.030
0.005/na
na
20% overhead
ADC
DAC
ADI
Maxim
AD9288
MAX5189
9x9 mm
6x10 mm
$6
$5
156/6
7/1
Misc
Various
Various
Various
~4 x 6 cm
$31
n/a
~$100 ~350/10
* Actel IGLOO active power ~ 10’s mW and standby power ~10 W.
* Actel SmartFusion power to be characterized.
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Outline
• Introduction
• Scaling Challenges
• Technology Enablers
• Architectural Sketch
• Research Challenges
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Time multiplex algorithms on the CPU or
parallelize algorithms on the FPGA fabric?
FPGA
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Verilog/VHDL RTLs
Parallel
Fast to run
Hard to write
Great power-efficiency
Gate-limited
Use soft CPU core?
CPU
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Assembly/C/C++
Sequential
Slow to run
Easy to write
Poor power-efficiency
Memory-limited
Use hard CPU core
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•
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Lots of SDR & soft router software
Better to not reinvent the wheel
How can these libraries be wrapped?
Implications on computation model?
Click
How should we reuse existing SDR libraries?
http://gnuradio.org/redmine/repositories/browse/gnuradio/gnuradio-core/src/lib
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Let chaos reign… then rein in the chaos
• Many basic architectural questions
– How much low-level detail should be exposed to applications?
– How to balance component library flexibly and reuse?
– How should computations be scheduled?
• But many questions don’t need immediate answers
– Allow exploration of the design space
– Allow competing software architectures
– Eventually converge on known good design points
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Outline
• Introduction
• Scaling Challenges
• Technology Enablers
• Architectural Sketch
• Research Challenges
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This work is about finding a middle ground
USRP
SDR
Mote
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Questions?
Comments?
Discussion?
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