SPIRAL: A new tool for boosting high-speed computing performance

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As technology evolves, the demand for faster and more efficient computing grows, especially with the rise of machine learning and 5G networks.

To meet these needs, the concept of “chiplets” has emerged. Chiplets are small, individual chips that can be combined to perform complex tasks more efficiently than a single large chip.

However, linking these chiplets together in a system presents new challenges, particularly in maintaining the quality of data and power signals.

Jingtong Hu, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and his team are tackling these challenges head-on.

They’ve developed a new framework called SPIRAL, which stands for Signal-Power Integrity Co-analysis of High-speed Interchiplet Serial Links.

This innovative tool was featured at the 2024 29th Asia and South Pacific Design Automation Conference (ASP-DAC).

SPIRAL is designed to improve how chiplets communicate within a chip.

Traditional tools, like the widely used SPICE software, struggle with the new complexities introduced by chiplets. SPICE is great for analyzing simpler circuits but falls short when dealing with the intricate interconnections between multiple chiplets.

Chiplets are essentially a collection of smaller, unpackaged dies that each perform specific functions.

They are selected from a library of available chiplets and assembled into a single package.

These chiplets are then interconnected using a method known as die-to-die interconnects. As the number of connections within a package increases, so does the difficulty in maintaining strong signal and power integrity.

Poor integrity can lead to data corruption and reduced system performance.

To address this, SPIRAL uses advanced modeling techniques, including a machine-learning-based model for the transmitter and an impulse response-based model for the channel and receiver.

This allows SPIRAL to analyze both the signal and power integrity simultaneously, using a method based on pulse responses. This dual analysis is crucial for ensuring that the chiplets communicate effectively without interference, which is vital for the performance of high-speed computing tasks.

The introduction of SPIRAL marks a significant advancement in the design and analysis of complex chip systems.

By providing a more accurate and efficient way to assess the integrity of chiplet-based systems, SPIRAL helps engineers design more reliable and powerful computing devices. This is especially important as we rely more on sophisticated technologies that require high computing performance.

Hu’s work is paving the way for future developments in computing technology, ensuring that as our devices become more complex, their performance remains robust and reliable.

This innovation not only enhances the functionality of individual devices but also contributes to the broader field of electrical and computer engineering by improving the foundational technologies that power our digital world.