Enabling voltage over-scaling in multiplierless DSP architectures via algorithm-hardware co-design

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The design of low-power digital signal processing (DSP) architectures have gained a lot of attention due to their use in a variety of smart edge applications and portable devices. Recent efforts have focused on the replacement of power-hungry multipliers with various approximation frameworks such as multiplierless architectures that require only a few bit-shifts, additions and/or multiplexers when the multiplicand coefficients are known a priori. However, most existing multiplierless and approximation-based works have not been combined systematically with voltage over-scaling (VOS), which is considered one of the most effective power saving approaches, while the few that have tried, were applied to specific case studies with custom modifications. In this article, we are proposing a generic optimization framework that not only minimizes the hardware units in any time-multiplexed directed acyclic graph (TM-DAG) multiplier but also allows the reliable completion of most operations and the avoidance of random timing errors under VOS. This is achieved by synthesizing alternative coefficients that approximate well the original ones, while also activating shorter critical paths. As a result when VOS is applied, minor quality degradation occurs due to the coefficient approximations which are deterministic by design, while the gained timing slack of the new multiplicands allow us to reduce the supply voltage and circumvent the random timing errors induced by the increased delay under iso-frequency/throughput. Our experiments have indicated that when our framework is applied on fast Fourier transform (FFT) and discrete cosine transform (DCT) architectures, it results in up to 34.07% power savings, when compared to conventional multiplierless architectures, while it induces minimal signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) degradation, even when voltage is reduced by up to 20%.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2
Pages (from-to) 219 - 230
Number of pages12
JournalIEEE Transactions on Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI) Systems
Issue number2
Early online date29 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2024


  • Approximate discrete cosine transform (DCT)
  • approximate fast Fourier transform (FFT)
  • multiplierless,
  • time- multiplexing
  • voltage over-scaling (VOS)


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