IEEE Transactions on Multi-Scale Computing Systems

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From the January-March 2018 issue

Data Transfers Analysis in Computer Assisted Design Flow of FPGA Accelerators for Aerospace Systems

By Marco Lattuada, Fabrizio Ferrandi, and Maxime Perrotin

Featured article thumbnail image The integration of Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) in an aerospace system improves its efficiency and its flexibility thanks to their programmability, but increases the design complexity. The design flows indeed have to be composed of several steps to fill the gap between the starting solution, which is usually a reference sequential implementation, and the final heterogeneous solution which includes custom hardware accelerators. Among these steps, there are the analysis of the application to identify the functionalities that gain advantages in execution on hardware and the generation of their implementations by means of Hardware Description Languages. Generating these descriptions for a software developer can be a very difficult task because of the different programming paradigms of software programs and hardware descriptions. To facilitate the developer in this activity, High Level Synthesis techniques have been developed aiming at (semi-)automatically generating hardware implementations of specifications written in high level languages (e.g., C). With respect to other embedded systems scenarios, the aerospace systems introduce further constraints that have to be taken into account during the design of these heterogeneous systems. In this type of systems explicit data transfers to and from FPGAs are preferred to the adoption of a shared memory architecture. The first approach indeed potentially improves the predictability of the produced solutions, but the sizes of all the data transferred to and from any devices must be known at design time. Identifying the sizes in presence of complex C applications which use pointers can be a not so easy task. In this paper, a semi-automatic design flow based on the integration of an aerospace design flow, an application analysis technique, and High Level Synthesis methodologies is presented. The initial reference application is analyzed to identify which are the sizes of the data exchanged among the different components of the application. Next, starting from the high level specification and from the results of this analysis, High Level Synthesis techniques are applied to automatically produce the hardware accelerators.

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Editorials and Announcements


  • The winner of the 2017 Best TMSCS Paper Award is:
    "Enabling New Computation Paradigms with HyperFET - An Emerging Device"
    by Wei-Yu Tsai, Xueqing Li, Matthew Jerry, Baihua Xie, Nikhil Shukla, Huichu Liu, Nandhini Chandramoorthy, Matthew Cotter, Arijit Raychowdhury, Donald M Chiarulli, Steven P Levitan, Suman Datta, John Sampson, Nagarajan Ranganathan, Vijaykrishnan Narayanan
    IEEE Transactions on Multi-Scale Computing Systems, Vol. 2, Iss. 1, pp. 30-48, 2016.
  • We're pleased to announce that Partha Pratim Pande, professor at Washington State University, has accepted the position of inaugural Editor-in-Chief.


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