Report Number: CSL-TR-00-792
Institution: Stanford University, Computer Systems Laboratory
Title: Performance of Data-Intensive Algorithms on FPGAs in an
Author: Mencer, Oskar
Author: Morf, Martin
Author: Flynn, Michael J.
Date: February 2000
Abstract: Recently, we see academic and industrial efforts to combine traditional computing environments with reconfigurable logic. Each application, or part of an application, has an optimal implementation within the design space of microprocessors, reconfigurable logic, and hardwired VLSI circuits. Programmability, Performance, and Power are the major metrics that have to be taken into account when deciding between the available technologies. Performance advantages of FPGAs over processors for specific applications have been shown in previous research. We show the potential of current low-power FPGAs to outperform current state-of-the-art processors in Performance over Power by more than half an order of magnitude. Programmability remains a tough issue. As a starting point, we define a hardware object interface in C++, PAM-Blox. PAM-Blox is an open, object-oriented environment for programming FPGAs that encourages design sharing and code reuse. PAM-Blox simplifies the creation of optimized high-performance designs. Encouraging a distributed effort to share hardware objects over the internet in the spirit of open software, is a first step towards improving the programmability of FPGAs.