Firefly: Illuminating Future Network-on-Chip With Nanophotonics

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Executive Summary

Future many-core processors will require high-performance yet energy-efficient on-chip networks to provide a communication substrate for the increasing number of cores. Recent advances in silicon nanophotonics create new opportunities for on-chip networks. To efficiently exploit the benefits of nanophotonics, the authors propose Firefly - a hybrid, hierarchical network architecture. Firefly consists of clusters of nodes that are connected using conventional, electrical signaling while the inter-cluster communication is done using nanophotonics - exploiting the benefits of electrical signaling for short, local communication while nanophotonics is used only for global communication to realize an efficient on-chip network.

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