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Engineer the Channel and Adapt to it: Enabling Wireless Intra-Chip Communication

: Timoneda, X.; Abadal, S.; Franques, A.; Manessis, D.; Zhou, J.; Torrellas, J.; Alarcón, E.; Cabellos-Aparicio, A.


IEEE transactions on communications 68 (2020), No.5, pp.3247-3258
ISSN: 0090-6778
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IZM ()

Ubiquitous multicore processors nowadays rely on an integrated packet-switched network for cores to exchange and share data. The performance of these intra-chip networks is a key determinant of the processor speed and, at high core counts, becomes an important bottleneck due to scalability issues. To address this, several works propose the use of mm-wave wireless interconnects for intra-chip communication and demonstrate that, thanks to their low-latency broadcast and system-level flexibility, this new paradigm could break the scalability barriers of current multicore architectures. However, these same works assume 10+ Gb/s speeds and efficiencies close to 1 pJ/bit without a proper understanding of the wireless intra-chip channel. This paper first demonstrates that such assumptions do not hold in the context of commercial chips by evaluating losses and dispersion in them. Then, we leverage the system's monolithic nature to engineer the channel, this is, to optimize its frequency response by carefully choosing the chip package dimensions. Finally, we exploit the static nature of the channel to adapt to it, pushing efficiency-speed limits with simple tweaks at the physical layer. Our methods reduce the path loss and delay spread of a simulated commercial chip by 47 dB and 7.3×, respectively, enabling intra-chip wireless communications over 10 Gb/s and only 3.1 dB away from the dispersion-free case.