2019 Volume E102.A Issue 12 Pages 1781-1791
Approximate computing has emerged as a promising approach for error-tolerant applications to improve hardware performance at the cost of some loss of accuracy. Multiplication is a key arithmetic operation in these applications. In this paper, we propose a low-cost approximate multiplier design by employing new probability-driven inexact compressors. This compressor design is introduced to reduce the height of partial product matrix into two rows, based on the probability distribution of the sum result of partial products. To compensate the accuracy loss of the multiplier, a grouped error recovery scheme is proposed and achieves different levels of accuracy. In terms of mean relative error distance (MRED), the accuracy losses of the proposed multipliers are from 1.07% to 7.86%. Compared with the Wallace multiplier using 40nm process, the most accurate variant of the proposed multipliers can reduce power by 59.75% and area by 42.47%. The critical path delay reduction is larger than 12.78%. The proposed multiplier design has a better accuracy-performance trade-off than other designs with comparable accuracy. In addition, the efficiency of the proposed multiplier design is assessed in an image processing application.