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Domain specific accelerators for RISC-V

www.microcontrollertips.com, Apr. 26, 2021 – 

Domain specific accelerators (DSAs) are specialized hardware computing engines optimized for specific tasks. DSAs have been developed for graphics, simulation, image processing, deep learning, bioinformatics, and other tasks. Compared to general purpose processors, accelerators offer orders of magnitude improvements in performance/cost and/or performance/watt. The previous FAQ in this series, "What's the future for RISC-V in 5G?," included a discussion of an application-specific DSA to implement neural networks for 5G radio resource management. This article will review more general purpose DSAs, including those designed for digital signal processing applications, cryptography, and deep learning.

Initially, DSAs were developed to lower the execution time for, particularly computationally intensive tasks. More recently, DSAs are being adopted to lower the energy consumption needed to perform a task. Even if the DSA's peak power consumption is greater than the peak power consumed by a general purpose processor, the task execution time is reduced by such a large amount that the total energy required to complete a task is lower. Like memory, RISC-V DSAs can be implemented on the same silicon as the processor core using system on chip (SoC) designs or implemented as system in package (SiP) designs.

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