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In this paper we present an approach for quantitative analysis of application-specific dataflow architectures. The approach allows the designer to rate design alternatives in a quantitative way and therefore supports him in the design process to find better performing architectures. The context of our work is video signal processing algorithms which are mapped onto weakly-programmable, coarse-grain dataflow architectures. The algorithms are represented as Kahn graphs with the functionality of the nodes being coarse-grain functions. We have implemented an architecture simulation environment that permits the definition of dataflow architectures as a composition of architecture elements, such as functional units, buffer elements and communication structures. The abstract, clock-cycle accurate simulator has been built using a multi-threading package and employs object oriented principles. This results in a configurable and efficient simulator. Algorithms can subsequently be executed on the architecture model producing quantitative information for selected performance metrics. Results are presented for the simulation of a realistic application on several dataflow architecture alternatives, showing that many different architectures can be simulated in modest time on a modern workstation.
Date of Conference: 14-16 July 1997