BlackOut: Enabling fine-grained power gating of buffers in Network-on-Chip routers
Nicopoulos, Chrysostomos A.
SourceJournal of Parallel and Distributed Computing
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The Network-on-Chip (NoC) router buffers play an instrumental role in the performance of both the interconnection fabric and the entire multi-/many-core system. Nevertheless, the buffers also constitute the major leakage power consumers in NoC implementations. Traditionally, they are designed to accommodate worst-case traffic scenarios, so they tend to remain idle, or under-utilized, for extended periods of time. The under-utilization of these valuable resources is exemplified when one profiles real application workloadsthe generated traffic is bursty in nature, whereby high traffic periods are sporadic and infrequent, in general. The mitigation of the leakage power consumption of NoC buffers via power gating has been explored in the literature, both at coarse (router-level) and fine (buffer-level) granularities. However, power gating at the router granularity is suitable only for low and medium traffic conditions, where the routers have enough opportunities to be powered down. Under high traffic, the sleeping potential rapidly diminishes. Moreover, disabling an entire router greatly affects the NoC functionality and the network connectivity. This article presents BlackOut, a fine-grained power-gating methodology targeting individual router buffers. The goal is to minimize leakage power consumption, without adversely impacting the system performance. The proposed framework is agnostic of the routing algorithm and the network topology, and it is applicable to any router micro-architecture. Evaluation results obtained using both synthetic traffic patterns and real applications in 64-core systems indicate energy savings of up to 70%, as compared to a baseline NoC, with a near-negligible performance overhead of around 2%. BlackOut is also shown to significantly outperform–by 35%, on average–two current state-of-the-art power-gating solutions, in terms of energy savings. © 2017 Elsevier Inc.
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