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  1. Modular design is a key challenge for enabling large-scale reuse of hardware modules. Unlike software, however, hardware designs correspond to physical circuits and inherit constraints from them. Timing constraints—which cycle a signal arrives, when an input is read—and structural constraints—how often a multiplier accepts new inputs—are fundamental to hardware interfaces. Existing hardware design languages do not provide a way to encode these constraints; a user must read documentation, build scripts, or in the worst case, a module’s implementation to understand how to use it. We present Filament, a language for modular hardware design that supports the specification and enforcement of timing and structural constraints for statically scheduled pipelines. Filament uses timeline types , which describe the intervals of clock-cycle time when a given signal is available or required. Filament enables safe composition of hardware modules, ensures that the resulting designs are correctly pipelined, and predictably lowers them to efficient hardware. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 6, 2024
  2. As customized accelerator design has become increasingly popular to keep up with the demand for high performance computing, it poses challenges for modern simulator design to adapt to such a large variety of accelerators. Existing simulators tend to two extremes: low-level and general approaches, such as RTL simulation, that can model any hardware but require substantial effort and long execution times; and higher-level application-specific models that can be much faster and easier to use but require one-off engineering effort.This work proposes a compiler-driven simulation workflow that can model configurable hardware accelerator. The key idea is to separate structure representation from simulation by developing an intermediate language that can flexibly represent a wide variety of hardware constructs. We design the Event Queue (EQueue) dialect of MLIR, a dialect that can model arbitrary hardware accelerators with explicit data movement and distributed event-based control; we also implement a generic simulation engine to model EQueue programs with hybrid MLIR dialects representing different abstraction levels. We demonstrate two case studies of EQueue-implemented accelerators: the systolic array of convolution and SIMD processors in a modern FPGA. In the former we show EQueue simulation is as accurate as a state-of-the-art simulator, while offering higher extensibility and lower iteration cost via compiler passes. In the latter we demonstrate our simulation flow can guide designer efficiently improve their design using visualizable simulation outputs. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    Applications targeting digital signal processors (DSPs) benefit from fast implementations of small linear algebra kernels. While existing auto-vectorizing compilers are effective at extracting performance from large kernels, they struggle to invent the complex data movements necessary to optimize small kernels. To get the best performance, DSP engineers must hand-write and tune specialized small kernels for a wide spectrum of applications and architectures. We present Diospyros, a search-based compiler that automatically finds efficient vectorizations and data layouts for small linear algebra kernels. Diospyros combines symbolic evaluation and equality saturation to vectorize computations with irregular structure. We show that a collection of Diospyros-compiled kernels outperform implementations from existing DSP libraries by 3.1× on average, that Diospyros can generate kernels that are competitive with expert-tuned code, and that optimizing these small kernels offers end-to-end speedup for a DSP application. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    We present Calyx, a new intermediate language (IL) for compiling high-level programs into hardware designs. Calyx combines a hardware-like structural language with a software-like control flow representation with loops and conditionals. This split representation enables a new class of hardware-focused optimizations that require both structural and control flow information which are crucial for high-level programming models for hardware design. The Calyx compiler lowers control flow constructs using finite-state machines and generates synthesizable hardware descriptions. We have implemented Calyx in an optimizing compiler that translates high-level programs to hardware. We demonstrate Calyx using two DSL-to-RTL compilers, a systolic array generator and one for a recent imperative accelerator language, and compare them to equivalent designs generated using high-level synthesis (HLS). The systolic arrays are 4.6× faster and 1.11× larger on average than HLS implementations, and the HLS-like imperative language compiler is within a few factors of a highly optimized commercial HLS toolchain. We also describe three optimizations implemented in the Calyx compiler. 
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  6. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) provide an opportunity to co-design applications with hardware accelerators, yet they remain difficult to program. High-level synthesis (HLS) tools promise to raise the level of abstraction by compiling C or C++ to accelerator designs. Repurposing legacy software languages, however, requires complex heuristics to map imperative code onto hardware structures. We find that the black-box heuristics in HLS can be unpredictable: changing parameters in the program that should improve performance can counterintuitively yield slower and larger designs. This paper proposes a type system that restricts HLS to programs that can predictably compile to hardware accelerators. The key idea is to model consumable hardware resources with a time-sensitive affine type system that prevents simultaneous uses of the same hardware structure. We implement the type system in Dahlia, a language that compiles to HLS C++, and show that it can reduce the size of HLS parameter spaces while accepting Pareto-optimal designs. 
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  7. Digital signal processors (DSPs) offer cutting-edge energy efficiency for embedded multimedia computations, but writing high-performance DSP code requires expert tuning. Programmers need to work at a low level of abstraction, manually tailoring vendor-specific instructions to enable vector and VLIW parallelism. Diospyros is a synthesizing compiler that searches for optimal data layouts to enable efficient vectorized code on DSPs. Preliminary results show that for small fixed-size matrix multiply and 2D convolution, Diospyros achieves a 6.4-7.6x speedup compared to vendor-provided optimized kernels, and a 6.5-31.3x speedup over loop-based kernels optimized with the vendor’s included compiler. 
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