Predicting Post Route Quality of Results Estimates for HLS Designs using Machine Learning

Pingakshya Goswami and Dinesh Bhatia
University of Texas at Dallas


Machine learning (ML) has been widely used to improve the predictability of EDA tools. The use of CAD tools that express designs at higher levels of abstraction makes machine learning even more important to highlight the performance of various design steps. Behavioral descriptions used during the high-level synthesis (HLS) are completely technology independent making it hard for designers to interpret how changes in the synthesis options affect the resultant circuit. FPGA design flows are completely embracing HLS based methodologies so that software engineers with almost no hardware design skills can easily use their tools. HLS tools allow design space exploration by modifying synthesis options, however, they lack accuracy in the Quality of Results (QoR) reported right after HLS. This lack of correctness results in sub-optimal designs with problems in timing closure. This paper presents a robust ML based design flow that can accurately predict post-route QoR for a given behavioral description without the need to synthesize the design. The model is an important design exploration tool where a designer can quickly view the impact on overall design quality when local and global optimization directives are changed. The proposed methodology presents two strong advantages: (i) Accurate prediction of the design quality (QoR), and (ii) complete elimination of the need to execute high-level synthesis for each design option. We predict three post route parameters, (i). Area, (ii). Latency and (iii). Clock Period of a design just by analyzing the high level behavioral code and some intermediate representation codes. We have integrated the methodology with Xilinx HLS tools and have demonstrated accurate estimation on a variety of FPGA families. Our estimated results are within 10% of actual computed values.