Internet of Things (IoT) has become a popular topic in industry over the recent years, which describes an ecosystem of internet-connected devices or things that enrich the everyday life by improving our productivity and efficiency. The primary components of the IoT ecosystem are hardware, software and services. While the software and services of IoT system focus on data collection and processing to make decisions, the underlying hardware is responsible for sensing the information, preprocess and transmit it to the servers. Since the IoT ecosystem is still in infancy, there is a great need for rapid prototyping platforms that would help accelerate the hardware design process. However, depending on the target IoT application, different sensors are required to sense the signals such as heart-rate, temperature, pressure, acceleration, etc., and there is a great need for reconfigurable platforms that can prototype different sensor interfacing circuits.
This thesis primarily focuses on two important hardware aspects of an IoT system: (a) an FPAA based reconfigurable sensing front-end system and (b) an FPGA based reconfigurable processing system. To enable reconfiguration capability for any sensor type, Programmable ANalog Device Array (PANDA), a transistor-level analog reconfigurable platform is proposed. CAD tools required for implementation of front-end circuits on the platform are also developed. To demonstrate the capability of the platform on silicon, a small-scale array of 24×25 PANDA cells is fabricated in 65nm technology. Several analog circuit building blocks including amplifiers, bias circuits and filters are prototyped on the platform, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the platform for rapid prototyping IoT sensor interfaces.
IoT systems typically use machine learning algorithms that run on the servers to process the data in order to make decisions. Recently, embedded processors are being used to preprocess the data at the energy-constrained sensor node or at IoT gateway, which saves considerable energy for transmission and bandwidth. Using conventional CPU based systems for implementing the machine learning algorithms is not energy-efficient. Hence an FPGA based hardware accelerator is proposed and an optimization methodology is developed to maximize throughput of any convolutional neural network (CNN) based machine learning algorithm on a resource-constrained FPGA.