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HiPPAI: High Performance Portable Accelerator Interface for SoCs

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7 Author(s)

Specialized hardware accelerators are enabling today's System on Chip (SoC) platforms to target various applications. In this paper we show that as these SoCs evolve in complexity and usage, the programming models for such platforms need to evolve beyond the traditional driver oriented architecture. Using a test set up that employs a programmable FPGA based accelerator to implement one of the critical computation functions of a Mobile Augmented Reality based workload, we describe the performance drawbacks that a conventional programming model brings to compute environments employing hardware accelerators. We show that these performance issues become more critical as the interface latencies continue to improve over time with better hardware integration and efficient interconnect technologies. Under these usage scenarios, we show with measurements that the software overheads enforced by the current programming model, like those associated with system calls, memory copy and memory address translations account for a major part of the performance overheads. We then propose a novel High Performance Portable Accelerator Interface (HiPPAI) for SoC platforms using hardware accelerators to reduce the software overheads mentioned above. In addition, we position the new programming interface to allow for function portability between software and hardware function accelerators to reduce the application development effort. Our proposed model relies on two major building blocks for performance improvement. A uniform virtual memory addressing model based on hardware IOMMU support and direct user mode access to accelerators. We demonstrate how these enhancements reduce the overheads of system calls and address translations at the user/kernel boundary in traditional software stacks and enable function portability.

Published in:

2009 International Conference on High Performance Computing (HiPC)

Date of Conference:

16-19 Dec. 2009