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Title: Dynamic reconfiguration frameworks for high-performance reliable real-time reconfigurable computing
Author: Adetomi, Adewale Akinlawon
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 4067
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2019
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The sheer hardware-based computational performance and programming flexibility offered by reconfigurable hardware like Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) make them attractive for computing in applications that require high performance, availability, reliability, real-time processing, and high efficiency. Fueled by fabrication process scaling, modern reconfigurable devices come with ever greater quantities of on-chip resources, allowing a more complex variety of applications to be developed. Thus, the trend is that technology giants like Microsoft, Amazon, and Baidu now embrace reconfigurable computing devices likes FPGAs to meet their critical computing needs. In addition, the capability to autonomously reprogramme these devices in the field is being exploited for reliability in application domains like aerospace, defence, military, and nuclear power stations. In such applications, real-time computing is important and is often a necessity for reliability. As such, applications and algorithms resident on these devices must be implemented with sufficient considerations for real-time processing and reliability. Often, to manage a reconfigurable hardware device as a computing platform for a multiplicity of homogenous and heterogeneous tasks, reconfigurable operating systems (ROSes) have been proposed to give a software look to hardware-based computation. The key requirements of a ROS include partitioning, task scheduling and allocation, task configuration or loading, and inter-task communication and synchronization. Existing ROSes have met these requirements to varied extents. However, they are limited in reliability, especially regarding the flexibility of placing the hardware circuits of tasks on device's chip area, the problem arising more from the partitioning approaches used. Indeed, this problem is deeply rooted in the static nature of the on-chip inter-communication among tasks, hampering the flexibility of runtime task relocation for reliability. This thesis proposes the enabling frameworks for reliable, available, real-time, efficient, secure, and high-performance reconfigurable computing by providing techniques and mechanisms for reliable runtime reconfiguration, and dynamic inter-circuit communication and synchronization for circuits on reconfigurable hardware. This work provides task configuration infrastructures for reliable reconfigurable computing. Key features, especially reliability-enabling functionalities, which have been given little or no attention in state-of-the-art are implemented. These features include internal register read and write for device diagnosis; configuration operation abort mechanism, and tightly integrated selective-area scanning, which aims to optimize access to the device's reconfiguration port for both task loading and error mitigation. In addition, this thesis proposes a novel reliability-aware inter-task communication framework that exploits the availability of dedicated clocking infrastructures in a typical FPGA to provide inter-task communication and synchronization. The clock buffers and networks of an FPGA use dedicated routing resources, which are distinct from the general routing resources. As such, deploying these dedicated resources for communication sidesteps the restriction of static routes and allows a better relocation of circuits for reliability purposes. For evaluation, a case study that uses a NASA/JPL spectrometer data processing application is employed to demonstrate the improved reliability brought about by the implemented configuration controller and the reliability-aware dynamic communication infrastructure. It is observed that up to 74% time saving can be achieved for selective-area error mitigation when compared to state-of-the-art vendor implementations. Moreover, an improvement in overall system reliability is observed when the proposed dynamic communication scheme is deployed in the data processing application. Finally, one area of reconfigurable computing that has received insufficient attention is security. Meanwhile, considering the nature of applications which now turn to reconfigurable computing for accelerating compute-intensive processes, a high premium is now placed on security, not only of the device but also of the applications, from loading to runtime execution. To address security concerns, a novel secure and efficient task configuration technique for task relocation is also investigated, providing configuration time savings of up to 32% or 83%, depending on the device; and resource usage savings in excess of 90% compared to state-of-the-art.
Supervisor: Arslan, Tughrul ; Hamilton, Alister Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: reconfigurable devices ; on-chip resources ; reliability ; error mitigation