ORION 2.0: A Fast and Accurate NoC Power and Area Model for Early-Stage Design Space Exploration

Andrew Kahng, Bin Li, Li-Shiuan Peh and Kambiz Samadi
September 30, 2008

As industry moves towards many-core chips, networks-on-chip (NoCs) are emerging as the scalable fabric for interconnecting the cores. With power now the first-order design constraint, early-stage estimation of NoC power has become crucially important. ORION was amongst the first NoC power models released, and has since been fairly widely used for early-stage power estimation of NoCs. However, when validated against recent NoC prototypes – the Intel 80-core Teraflops chip and the Intel Scalable Communications Core (SCC) chip – we saw significant deviation that can lead to erroneous NoC design choices. This prompted our development of ORION 2.0, an extensive enhancement of the original ORION models which includes completely new subcomponent power models, area models, as well as improved and updated technology models. Validating against the two Intel chips saw ORION 2.0 bringing a substantial improvement in accuracy over the original ORION. A case study with these power models plugged within the COSI-OCC NoC design space exploration tool confirms the need for, and value of, accurate early-stage NoC power estimation. To ensure the longevity of ORION 2.0, we will be releasing it wrapped within a semi-automated flow that automatically updates its models as new technology files become available.

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