Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati’s Automation, Verification and Security (AVS) Lab have been working on ways to develop secure and reliable integrated circuits (ICs) in order to strengthen India’s electronics manufacturing ecosystem with faster and more efficient computing technology.
The research looks at aspects of the automated electronics design process such synthesis, verification, and security. The study’s findings have been published in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ journals and conferences (IEEE). An ever-increasing computational demand has prompted the development of application-specific processors that outperform today’s central processing units (CPUs). The advancements in computing power of today’s multicore CPUs are still insufficient.
Discussing the importance of the research, the study’s author Chandan Karfa, Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science & Engineering, said, “A promising technology to improve computational efficiency is hardware accelerators. In hardware acceleration, specific tasks can be offloaded to dedicated hardware instead of being performed by the CPU core of the system. For example, visualization processes may be offloaded onto a graphics card, thereby freeing the CPU to perform other tasks.”
The research team focused on hardware acceleration specifications, which are frequently written in high-level languages such as C/C++ and then transformed to hardware code via a technique known as High-Level Synthesis (HLS). As the complex conversion procedure and HLS translation create the chance of design errors, several strict validation stages are required. Instead of using RTL simulators, the team created a faster and simpler solution for HLS verification.
“We have developed two tools to validate the HLS process. One is FastSim, an RTL simulator that is 300 times faster than existing commercial simulators. The other is DEEQ, which is an automated C to RTL equivalence checking tool for HLS verification. There is no other tool in the market with similar features,” Karfa added.
The team also created HOST, a technique that protects ICs from Internet Protocol (IP) theft during the design cycle. The IIT Guwahati team’s research is significant because hardware accelerators are in high demand in disruptive fields including the Internet of Things (IoT), embedded and cyber-physical systems, machine learning, and image processing applications.