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Code compression architecture for cache energy minimisation in embedded systems

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3 Author(s)
Benini, L. ; Bologna Univ., Italy ; Macii, A. ; Nannarelli, A.

Energy consumption of the processor-to-memory path normally accounts for a large fraction of the total energy budget of modern embedded systems. A novel approach for reducing energy consumption in core processors used in systems with cache-based architectures is present. In this scheme, instructions are fetched and stored in the I-cache in compressed form. The beneficial effect is an increase of the cache hit ratio; therefore, the number of accesses to the main memory is reduced, and so is the energy required to fetch the instructions. Static code size reduction is achieved as a by-product. A hardware decompression unit performs fast low-energy on-the-fly instruction decompression at each cache look-up. The decompressor is placed outside the core boundaries: therefore, processor architecture does not need any modification, making the proposed compression approach suitable to JP-based designs. The viability and effectiveness of this solution is assessed through extensive benchmarking performed on a number of typical embedded programs. Beside code size, energy and performance optimisation results, the authors also report data regarding the synthesis and implementation of the decompression unit. The energy penalty it introduces is taken into account in the evaluation of the achieved energy savings

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Computers and Digital Techniques, IEE Proceedings -  (Volume:149 ,  Issue: 4 )