Adapting an FPGA-optimized  microprocessor to the MIPS32 instruction set

University essay from Linköpings universitet/Datorteknik; Linköpings universitet/Datorteknik

Abstract: Nowadays, FPGAs are large enough to host entire system-on-chip designs, wherein a soft core processor is often an integral part. High performance of the processor is always desirable, so there is an interest in finding faster solutions.This report aims to describe the work and results performed by Karl Bengtson and Olof Andersson at ISY. The task was to continue the development of a soft core microprocessor, originally created by Andreas Ehliar. The first step was to decide a more widely adopted instruction set for the processor. The choice fell upon the MIPS32 instruction set. The main work of the project has been focused on implementing support for MIPS32, allowing the processor to execute MIPS assembly language programs. The development has been done with speed optimization in mind. For every new function, the effects on the maximum frequency has been considered, and solutions not satisfying the speed requirements has been abandoned or revised.The performance has been measured by running a benchmark program—Coremark. Comparison has also been made to the main competitors among soft core processors. The results were positive, and reported a higher Coremark score than the other processors inthe study. The processor described herein still lacks many essential features. Nevertheless, the conclusion is that it may be possible to create a competitive alternative to established soft processors.

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