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Gamma-ray pulsar detection using reconfigurable computing hardware

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4 Author(s)
Frigo, J. ; Los Alamos Nat. Lab., NM, USA ; Palmer, D. ; Gokhale, M. ; Popkin-Paine, M.

This paper presents a method to detect gamma-ray pulsars using a fast folding algorithm (Staelin, 1969) mapped onto reconfigurable hardware. In contrast, existing techniques require gigapoint complex FFTs. the algorithm has been written in Streams-C and compiled with the sc2 compiler to the target Annapolis Micro Systems (AMS) Firebird board (Xilinx Virtex E processor). To accelerate detection of new gamma-ray pulsars, the sc2 compiler generates a hardware implementation of the algorithm for finding periodicities in data sets. The data to be analyzed comes from a high-energy gamma-ray telescope onboard a spacecraft. This astrophysics application poses a "good example" of the use of a high level reconfigurable computing tool such as sc2 to accelerate an algorithm because it uses real satellite data, the algorithm can be parallelized, and was originally validated using a high level scientific language, IDL. By recasting the algorithm into Streams-C, the scientific software developer can create a hardware implementation on a reconfigurable computing platform. We describe the fast folding algorithm, the Streams-C implementation, and discuss techniques to optimize performance within the Streams-C framework. The compiler-generated hardware delivers approximately 3X to 6X speed up over a comparable 800MHz general-purpose processor doing the software-only algorithm.

Published in:

Field-Programmable Custom Computing Machines, 2003. FCCM 2003. 11th Annual IEEE Symposium on

Date of Conference:

9-11 April 2003