Feeds

Intel demos real-time code compression for die shrinkage, power saving

'Direct Compressed Execution' to boost affordability of 'Internet of Things'

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Business security measures using SSL

Research@Intel Intel researchers have developed a way to make the increasingly tiny processors needed to power the impending "Internet of Things" even tinier: compress the code running on them.

"We compress the code, make it smaller, and save area and power of integrated on-die memory," Intel Labs senior reseacher Sergey Kochuguev from ZAO Intel A/O in St. Petersburg, Russia, told The Reg at Tuesday's Research@Intel shindig in San Francisco.

The FPGA research die that Kochuguev demoed used a dedicated hardware compression-decompression unit of a mere 20,000 gates that sits on the die between the compute core and on-die memory. The process happens dynamically in real time, and is transparent to the core.

You might reasonably ask what level of latency would be introduced in such a scheme, but Kochuguev told us that it was low enough to make the power and die-size benefits worthwhile: less than 5 per cent as measured by industry-standard EEMBC benchmarks.

The compression unit was able to shrink the code size by around one-third on average, he said, which in most implementations saves far more memory real estate than the 20,000 gates needed for the compression/decompression unit. Kochuguev also emphasized that the unit's size and cost would be constant across different implementations, and would require only three microwatts per megahertz of processing power.

Slide from Direct Compressed Execution demo at Research@Intel 2013

Compress the code and you shrink the die required to house it and save power

Memory mapping, as you might assume, is handled by the compression/decompression unit, and the compression dictionary is hardwired into the unit, as well. "An address-resolution table is built for each binary individually," Kochuguev said, "and it sits next to the compressed-code image. We include its costs into our estimations of code-compression ratio, of course."

Of course.

Kochuguev showed us a code dump before and after compression, and it was easy to see, for example, how strings of zeros in the uncompressed code were stripped out in the compressed code, significantly reducing its byte count. And when he ran the code in both uncompressed and compressed form, the execution time difference was less than 5 per cent.

The prototype that he was demonstrating was a single-core setup, but Kochuguev said that there would be no reason why the design couldn't be extended to multicore architectures, "But we didn't assess that situation."

As microcontrollers begin to appear in some of the "IoT" devices that Intel was showing off or discussing in other Research@Intel demos – intelligent drapes, coffee machines, toothbrushes, baby monitors, stereos, alarm clocks, supermarket shelves, air-quality sensors, and more – even small savings in die size and power consumption could certainly add up fast.

How fast? Intel estimates that there will be 50 billion connected devices worldwide by 2020. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Oi, Tim Cook. Apple Watch. I DARE you to tell me, IN PERSON, that it's secure
State attorney demands Apple CEO bows the knee to him
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
4K-ing excellent TV is on its way ... in its own sweet time, natch
For decades Hollywood actually binned its 4K files. Doh!
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.