Approximate FPGA-Based Multipliers Using Carry-Inexact Elementary Modules

Heming SUN
Ping LEI

IEICE TRANSACTIONS on Fundamentals of Electronics, Communications and Computer Sciences   Vol.E103-A    No.9    pp.1054-1062
Publication Date: 2020/09/01
Online ISSN: 1745-1337
DOI: 10.1587/transfun.2019KEP0002
Type of Manuscript: Special Section PAPER (Special Section on Circuits and Systems)
approximate computing,  FPGA-based,  multiplier,  low-power design,  

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Approximate multiplier design is an effective technique to improve hardware performance at the cost of accuracy loss. The current approximate multipliers are mostly ASIC-based and are dedicated for one particular application. In contrast, FPGA has been an attractive choice for many applications because of its high performance, reconfigurability, and fast development round. This paper presents a novel methodology for designing approximate multipliers by employing the FPGA-based fabrics (primarily look-up tables and carry chains). The area and latency are significantly reduced by applying approximation on carry results and cutting the carry propagation path in the multiplier. Moreover, we explore higher-order multipliers on architectural space by using our proposed small-size approximate multipliers as elementary modules. For different accuracy-hardware requirements, eight configurations for approximate 8×8 multiplier are discussed. In terms of mean relative error distance (MRED), the error of the proposed 8×8 multiplier is as low as 1.06%. Compared with the exact multiplier, our proposed design can reduce area by 43.66% and power by 24.24%. The critical path latency reduction is up to 29.50%. The proposed multiplier design has a better accuracy-hardware tradeoff than other designs with comparable accuracy. Moreover, image sharpening processing is used to assess the efficiency of approximate multipliers on application.