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Glossary

Domain specific processor

What is a domain specific processor?

A domain-specific processor efficiently executes tasks or applications within a particular domain or application area.

It is optimized for a particular set of computations, workloads, or algorithms typically found in a specialized domain, such as digital signal processing, graphics rendering, networking, artificial intelligence or embedded systems.

Unlike general-purpose processors (GPPs) or central processing units (CPUs) that are designed to handle a wide range of applications, domain-specific processors contain features, instructions, and hardware components optimized for the specific computational requirements and characteristics of that domain, enabling high-performance and/or energy-efficient processing.

Domain-specific processors often incorporate specialized instruction sets, functional units, or co-processors that accelerate that types of operations commonly found in their target domain. For example, a domain-specific processor used for digital signal processing might have dedicated hardware for performing multiply-accumulate (MAC) operations, SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) instructions for parallel processing, or specialized instruction extensions for efficient handling of audio or video data.

Why do we need domain specific processors?

Benefits of domain-specific processors include performance optimization, energy efficiency, and reduced complexity. Indeed, domain-specific processors are designed to deliver high performance for the specific tasks or algorithms within their domain. By focusing on specific workloads and eliminating unnecessary overhead, they can achieve higher energy efficiency. This is particularly useful for battery-powered or energy-constrained devices where minimizing power consumption is crucial. Finally, by providing specialized instructions, libraries, and tools tailored to the specific domain, it can be easier for developers to optimize their applications and achieve the desired performance levels.

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