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    Software Defined Hardware

    FPGAs Ride HP’s Moonshot
    Rick Merritt
    EE Times, May 28, 2015

    SRC hopes to fuel Moonshot sales with its $20,000 4U card (pictured below) that hosts two Altera Stratix IV 530 FPGAs. The company claims the 45W board delivers 100 times the performance of an x86 server while using one percent of its power. The board also hosts a four-core Intel Atom chip for housekeeping duties and supports multiple Gbit Ethernet links to the Moonshot backplane.

    The company was co-founded in 1996 by supercomputer guru Seymour Cray. Its secret sauce is its Carte compiler that automatically turns users’ C-level code into FPGA-readable firmware, eliminating the need for often complex Verilog-level FPGA programming tools. The FPGA also lets users quickly change code as workloads shift.

    Tags: FPGA, Hardware, Architecture,
    Xilinx Loses Its Tail.
    The Next Evolutionary Step After FPGAs?
    Kevin Morris
    President at Techfocus Media, Inc.
    EE Journal, May 27, 2015

    We have entered the realm of software-defined everything.

    For a few years now, Xilinx has been whispering loudly that they wanted to change the status quo. Recognizing that being recognized only as an “FPGA” company was a major limitation, the company started hinting that it aspired to something larger, something more general and future-proof. When Xilinx launched Zynq (a family of devices that combined FPGA fabric and IO with conventional ARM-based processing subsystems), the “F-acronym” was nowhere to be seen. Even though it took Xilinx a while to figure out what to call the things, they were very careful never to use the term “FPGA” in conjunction with Zynq.

    At about the same time, Xilinx coined the term “All Programmable” and began steadily and quietly stripping “FPGA” from their high-level marketing materials. The message was subtle but clear: the company wanted to be more than just an “FPGA” company.

    Tags: FPGA, Hardware, Architecture,
    A Deeper Look at POWER8 CAPI and Data Engine for NoSQL
    Brad L. Brech and Bruce Wile
    IBM Systems Magazine, May 2015

    NoSQL and CAPI create a new tier of memory by attaching up to 40 TB of auxiliary flash memory to the processor without the latency issues of traditional I/O storage.

    This article explains CAPI (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface) technology and describes how it’s being used in the Data Engine for NoSQL, the first exploiter of the CAPI platform.

    IT organizations must provide increased system performance as their workloads grow with demands for big data analysis, social media applications, technical computing, continuous customer connectivity and business-specific applications. Increases in processor performance can no longer satisfy the workload demands, so solutions must also come from system-level advances such as hybrid computing, processing engine customization and open platform development that enables cross-company innovation.

    Many solutions will keep improving price-performance through specific function accelerators. These accelerators are delivered by GPU- and field-programmable gate array (FPGA)-based solutions. We already see these solutions today with I/O-attached acceleration engines, such as an NVIDIA GPU placed on a PCIe card.

    Tags: BigData, FPGA, Hardware, Architecture,
    Can TI Obsolete FPGAs?
    R. Colin Johnson
    EE Timas, May 7, 2015

    Texas Instruments (TI) has thrown down the gauntlet to the field programmable gate array (FPGA) community — mostly Altera and Xilinx — by starting a family of special-purpose processors that combine multicore ARM processors with multicore digital signal processors (DSPs) and multiple programmable hardware accelerators. Can they pull it off? An FPGA is like a blank-slate that can solve any high-speed computational problem, but at a high-price, difficult programming and a waste of resources (not every gate is used in the vast majority of FPGA designs).

    On the other hand, TI will have to create an expanding family of special-purpose chips to address all the niche markets that FPGAs address. Can it be done? We asked TI, Altera and a bevy of analysts what their opinions were and summarized them below.

    Tags: FPGA, Hardware, Architecture,
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