Design Space Exploration for Signal Processing Systems Using Lightweight Dataflow Graphs

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Design Space Exploration for Signal Processing Systems Using Lightweight Dataflow Graphs

Li, Lin

Advisor: Bhattacharyya, Shuvra S.


Digital signal processing (DSP) is widely used in many types of devices, including mobile phones, tablets, personal computers, and numerous forms of embedded systems. Implementation of modern DSP applications is very challenging in part due to the complex design spaces that are involved. These design spaces involve many kinds of configurable parameters associated with the signal processing algorithms that are used, as well as different ways of mapping the algorithms onto the targeted platforms.

In this thesis, we develop new algorithms, software tools and design methodologies to systematically explore the complex design spaces that are involved in design and implementation of signal processing systems. To improve the efficiency of design space exploration, we develop and apply compact system level models, which are carefully formulated to concisely capture key properties of signal processing algorithms, target platforms, and algorithm-platform interactions.

Throughout the thesis, we develop design methodologies and tools for integrating new compact system level models and design space exploration methods with lightweight dataflow (LWDF) techniques for design and implementation of signal processing systems. LWDF is a previously-introduced approach for integrating new forms of design space exploration and system-level optimization into design processes for DSP systems. LWDF provides a compact set of retargetable application programming interfaces (APIs) that facilitates the integration of dataflow-based models and methods. Dataflow provides an important formal foundation for advanced DSP system design, and the flexible support for dataflow in LWDF facilitates experimentation with and application of novel design methods that are founded in dataflow concepts. Our developed methodologies apply LWDF programming to facilitate their application to different types of platforms and their efficient integration with platform-based tools for hardware/software implementation. Additionally, we introduce novel extensions to LWDF to improve its utility for digital hardware design and adaptive signal processing implementation.

To address the aforementioned challenges of design space exploration and system optimization, we present a systematic multiobjective optimization framework for dataflow-based architectures. This framework builds on the methodology of multiobjective evolutionary algorithms and derives key system parameters subject to time-varying and multidimensional constraints on system performance. We demonstrate the framework by applying LWDF techniques to develop a dataflow-based architecture that can be dynamically reconfigured to realize strategic configurations in the underlying parameter space based on changing operational requirements.

Secondly, we apply Markov decision processes (MDPs) for design space exploration in adaptive embedded signal processing systems. We propose a framework, known as the Hierarchical MDP framework for Compact System-level Modeling (HMCSM), which embraces MDPs to enable autonomous adaptation of embedded signal processing under multidimensional constraints and optimization objectives. The framework integrates automated, MDP-based generation of optimal reconfiguration policies, dataflow-based application modeling, and implementation of embedded control software that carries out the generated reconfiguration policies.

Third, we present a new methodology for design and implementation of signal processing systems that are targeted to system-on-chip (SoC) platforms. The methodology is centered on the use of LWDF concepts and methods for applying principles of dataflow design at different layers of abstraction. The development processes integrated in our approach are software implementation, hardware implementation, hardware-software co-design, and optimized application mapping. The proposed methodology facilitates development and integration of signal processing hardware and software modules that involve heterogeneous programming languages and platforms.

Through three case studies involving complex applications, we demonstrate the effectiveness of the proposed contributions for compact system level design and design space exploration: a digital predistortion (DPD) system, a reconfigurable channelizer for wireless communication, and a deep neural network (DNN) for vehicle classification.

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