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Both performance and energy efficiency are critical concerns for embedded systems and portable devices. Multi-issue processors can exploit the instruction-level parallelism (ILP) of programs to improve the performance greatly, however, most of the time at a cost of energy and power consumption. How to reduce the energy consumption while maintaining the high performance of programs running on multi-issue processors remains a challenging problem. In this paper, we propose a novel approach to apply the instruction register file(IRF) technique from single-issue processor to VLIW architecture. Frequently executed instructions are selected to be placed in the on-chip IRF for fast and energy-efficient access in program execution. Violation of synchronization among VLIW instruction slots is avoided by introducing new instruction formats and microarchitectural support. The enhanced VLIW architecture is, thus, able to orchestrate the horizontal instruction parallelism and vertical instruction packing for programs to improve system overall efficiency. Our experimental results show that the proposed processor architecture achieves both the performance advantage provided by the VLIW architecture and high energy efficiency provided by the IRF-based instruction packing technique, e.g., the fetch energy consumption is reduced by 33.4 percent for a 4-way VLIW architecture with 16-entry IRFs for SPEC2000 testbenches.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2009