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Energy Efficiency or Performance

Energy Efficiency or Performance

On Wednesday 21th of November, the TDT4295 Computer Design Project students presented the results of this year’s work. The course was very popular this year, trippeling the number of students attending compared to earlier years.

The thirty students who took the course were divided into two groups, which were given the task to construct an array-based multiprocessor. One group was told to focus on performance at any cost, while the other group should to focus on energy efficiency.

The students started from scratch by designing a Printed Circuit Board (PCB). Then they designed and implemented their own processor architecture in a Xilinx FPGA. An Atmel microcontroller was used to handle I/O.

The performance group named their system 256 Shades of Gray - a system able to execute image processing algorithms on a real time gray scale video stream. Their system used the LENA array processor. The VGA controller implemented in the FPGA used a home-made DAC.

256 Shades of Gray was built by: Christer Emil Haga Bru, Vegard Edvardsen, Sondre Andreas Engebråten, Hans Kristian Flaatten, Martin Gammelsæter, Jean Niklas L’orange, Erik Lothe, Andreas Steensnæs Morland, Mads Buvik Sandvei, Einar Johan Trøan Sømåen, Lichao Tang, Håkon Opsvik Wikene and Trygve Aaberge.

The energy efficiency group named their system Fortitudo Floris - a system constructed around the custom RALPH array processor. By leveraging the sleep mode support in modern FPGAs. Fortitudo Floris only draws 60 mA when idle and around 1 W when processing. These numbers are significantly lower than achived by any previous computer design projects. For the first time in the course's history, this group was able to implement a DVI video interface in the FPGA.

Fortitudo Floris was built by: Thomas Rootwelt, Terje Schjelderup, Caroline Sæhle, Ola Martin Støvneng, Tord Øygard, Imre Kerr, Sebastian Bøe, Magnus Walstad, Didrik Jonassen Stian Hvatum, Joakim Andersson, Håkon Furre Amundsen and Anders Tvetmarken Akre.

The students were supervised by Magnus Jahre (coordinator) and Stefano Nichele. Certified radio and TV repairman Gunnar Tufte aided with his FPGA and PCB knowledge, as well as other craftsman tricks.

Photos from the presentation (Flickr).

Relevant links:
TDT4295 Computer Design Project Course Web Page (in Norwegian).
A selection of previous Computer Design Projects (in Norwegian).

By: Kai Torgeir Dragland     Published: 28.11.2012     
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