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Impact of run-time reconfiguration on design and speed - A case study based on a grid of run-time reconfigurable modules inside a FPGA

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5 Author(s)
Jochen Strunk ; Chemnitz University of Technology, Computer Architecture Group, Germany ; Toni Volkmer ; Klaus Stephan ; Wolfgang Rehm
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This paper examines the feasibility of utilizing a grid of run-time reconfigurable (RTR) modules on a dynamically and partially reconfigurable (DPR) FPGA. The aim is to create a homogeneous array of RTR regions on a FPGA, which can be reconfigured on demand during run-time. We study its setup, implementation and performance in comparison with its static counterpart. Such a grid of partially reconfigurable regions (PRR) on a FPGA could be used as an accelerator for computers to offload compute kernels or as an enhancement of functionality in the embedded market which uses FPGAs. An in-depth look at the methodology of creating run-time reconfigurable modules and its tools is shown. Due to the lack of the tools in handling hundreds of dynamically reconfigurable regions a framework is presented which supports the user in the creation process of the design. A case study which uses state of the art Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGAs compares the run-time reconfigurable implementation and achievable clock speeds of a grid with up to 47 reconfigurable module regions with its static counterpart. For this examination a high performance module is used, which finds patterns in a bit stream (pattern matcher). This module is replicated for each partially reconfigurable region. Particularly, design considerations for the controller, which manages the modules, are introduced. Beyond this, the paper also addresses further challenges of the implementation of such a RTR grid and limitations of the reconfigurability of Xilinx FPGAs.

Published in:

Parallel & Distributed Processing, 2009. IPDPS 2009. IEEE International Symposium on

Date of Conference:

23-29 May 2009