Circuit Synthesis for Analog Computing @TheOfficialACM
Sara Achour posts on the ACM SIGPLAN blog about synthesizing analog circuit blocks for computing.
A differential equation-solving analog device is a reconfigurable computing platform which leverages the physics of the underlying substrate to implement dynamical system computations. In the last article, we discussed how a programmer would manually configure an analog device to perform computation. In this article, we will discuss how to automatically configure an analog device to run a target dynamical system. We frame this problem of automatically configuring the analog hardware as a compilation problem.
Reconfigurable analog devices are a challenging target for circuit synthesis for the following reasons:
Complex Blocks: Reconfigurable analog devices often offer highly parametric blocks and complex blocks which implement non-standard functions. The compiler needs to creatively program blocks to effectively map the dynamical system to the analog hardware.
Non-Computational Blocks: Analog devices often provide special-use blocks which copy and convert signals (assembly blocks) or internally route signals (route blocks) throughout the device. The compiler needs to specially handle such blocks to use them correctly.
Restrictive Routing: Analog devices support a limited number of digitally settable connections and typically prioritize offering connections between spatially co-located blocks. Long-distance connections often involve multiple route blocks and are limited in supply. The compiler needs to intelligently lay out the circuit on the device so that all of the connections can be implemented on the hardware.
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