Wearout-Aware Compiler-Directed Register Assignment for Embedded Systems

Fahad Ahmed1,  Mohamed Sabry2,  David Atienza2,  Linda Milor1
1Georgia Institute of Technology, 2Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne


Although constant technology scaling has resulted in considerable benefits, smaller device dimensions, higher operating temperatures and electric field have also contributed to faster device aging due to wearout. Not only does this result in the shortening of processor lifetimes, it leads to faster wearout resultant performance degradation with operating time. Instead of taking a reactive approach towards reliability awareness, we propose a pre-emptive route toward wearout mitigation. Given the significant thermal and stress variation across the components of microprocessors, in this work we focus on one of the most likely candidates for overheating and hence reliability failures, the register file. We propose different wearout-aware compiler-directed register assignment techniques that distribute the stress induced wearout throughout the register file, with the aim of improving the lifetime of the register file, with negligible performance overhead. We compare our results with a state-of-the-art thermal-aware compilation scheme to show the clear advantage our proposed wearout-aware scheme has over thermal-aware schemes in terms of lifetime improvement that can reach up to 20% for Bias Temperature Instability.