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The RecoBlock SoC Platform: A Flexible Array of Reusable Run-Time-Reconfigurable IP-Blocks
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Electronic Systems.
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Electronic Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4859-3100
KTH, School of Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Electronic Systems.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8072-1742
2013 (English)In: Design, Automation & Test in Europe Conference & Exhibition (DATE), 2013, 2013, 833-838 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Run-time reconfigurable (RTR) FPGAs combine the flexibility of software with the high efficiency of hardware. Still, their potential cannot be fully exploited due to increased complexity of the design process. Consequently, to enable an efficient design flow, we devise a set of prerequisites to increase the flexibility and reusability of current FPGA-based RTR architectures. We apply these principles to design and implement the RecoBlock SoC platform, which main characterization is (1) a RTR plug-and-play IP-Core whose functionality is configured at run-time; (2) flexible inter-block communication configured via software, and (3) built-in buffers to support data-driven streams and inter-process communications. We illustrate the potential of our platform by a tutorial case study using an adaptive streaming application to investigate different combinations of reconfigurable arrays and schedules. The experiments underline the benefits of the platform and shows resource utilization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. 833-838 p.
, Design, Automation, and Test in Europe Conference and Exhibition. Proceedings, ISSN 1530-1591
Keyword [en]
reconfigurable architectures, partial and run-time reconfiguration, system-on-chip, adaptivity, embedded systems
National Category
Embedded Systems Other Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-121778DOI: 10.7873/DATE.2013.176ScopusID: 2-s2.0-84885655414ISBN: 978-1-4673-5071-6OAI: diva2:619553
Design, Automation & Test in Europe (DATE'13); Grenoble, France, 18-22 March 2013

QC 20130822

Available from: 2013-05-04 Created: 2013-05-04 Last updated: 2015-12-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Cognitive and Self-Adaptive SoCs with Self-Healing Run-Time-Reconfigurable RecoBlocks
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Cognitive and Self-Adaptive SoCs with Self-Healing Run-Time-Reconfigurable RecoBlocks
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In contrast to classical Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), partial and run-time reconfigurable (RTR) FPGAs can selectively reconfigure partitions of its hardware almost immediately while it is still powered and operative. In this way, RTR FPGAs combine the flexibility of software with the high efficiency of hardware. However, their potential cannot be fully exploited due to the increased complexity of the design process, and the intricacy to generate partial reconfigurations. FPGAs are often seen as a single auxiliary area to accelerate algorithms for specific problems. However, when several RTR partitions are implemented and combined with a processor system, new opportunities and challenges appear due to the creation of a heterogeneous RTR embedded system-on-chip (SoC).

The aim of this thesis is to investigate how the flexibility, reusability, and productivity in the design process of partial and RTR embedded SoCs can be improved to enable research and development of novel applications in areas such as hardware acceleration, dynamic fault-tolerance, self-healing, self-awareness, and self-adaptation. To address this question, this thesis proposes a solution based on modular reconfigurable IP-cores and design-and-reuse principles to reduce the design complexity and maximize the productivity of such FPGA-based SoCs. The research presented in this thesis found inspiration in several related topics and sciences such as reconfigurable computing, dependability and fault-tolerance, complex adaptive systems, bio-inspired hardware, organic and autonomic computing, psychology, and machine learning.

The outcome of this thesis demonstrates that the proposed solution addressed the research question and enabled investigation in initially unexpected fields. The particular contributions of this thesis are: (1) the RecoBlock SoC concept and platform with its flexible and reusable array of RTR IP-cores, (2) a simplified method to transform complex algorithms modeled in Matlab into relocatable partial reconfigurations adapted to an improved RecoBlock IP-core architecture, (3) the self-healing RTR fault-tolerant (FT) schemes, especially the Upset-Fault-Observer (UFO) that reuse available RTR IP-cores to self-assemble hardware redundancy during runtime, (4) the concept of Cognitive Reconfigurable Hardware (CRH) that defines a development path to achieve self-adaptation and cognitive development, (5) an adaptive self-aware and fault-tolerant RTR SoC that learns to adapt the RTR FT schemes to performance goals under uncertainty using rule-based decision making, (6) a method based on online and model-free reinforcement learning that uses a Q-algorithm to self-optimize the activation of dynamic FT schemes in performance-aware RecoBlock SoCs.

The vision of this thesis proposes a new class of self-adaptive and cognitive hardware systems consisting of arrays of modular RTR IP-cores. Such a system becomes self-aware of its internal performance and learns to self-optimize the decisions that trigger the adequate self-organization of these RTR cores, i.e., to create dynamic hardware redundancy and self-healing, particularly while working in uncertain environments.

Abstract [sv]

Partiell och run-time rekonfigurering (RTR) betyder att en del av en integrerad krets kan konfigureras om, medan den resterande delens operation kan fortlöpa. Moderna Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) kretsar är ofta partiell och run-time rekonfigurerbara och kombinerar därmed mjukvarans flexibilitet med hårdvarans effektivitet. Tyvärr hindrar dock den ökade designkomplexiteten att utnyttja dess fulla potential. Idag ses FPGAer mest som hårdvaruacceleratorer, men helt nya möjligheter uppstår genom att kombinera ett multiprocessorsystem med flera rekonfigurerbara partitioner som oberoende av varandra kan omkonfigureras under systemoperation.

Målet med avhandlingen är att undersöka hur utvecklingsprocessen för partiella och run-time rekonfigurerbara FPGAer kan förbättras för att möjliggöra forskning och utveckling av nya tillämpningar i områden som hårdvaruacceleration, själv-läkande och själv-adaptiva system. I avhandlingen föreslås att en lösning baserad på modulära rekonfigurerbara hårdvarukärnor kombinerad med principer för återanvändbarhet kan förenkla komplexiteten av utvecklingsprocessen och leda till en högre produktivitet vid utvecklingen av inbyggda run-time rekonfigurerbara system. Forskningen i avhandlingen inspirerades av flera relaterade områden, så som rekonfigurerbarhet, tillförlitlighet och feltolerans, komplexa adaptiva system, bio-inspirerad hårdvara, organiska och autonoma system, psykologi och maskininlärning.

Avhandlingens resultat visar att den föreslagna lösningen har potential inom olika tillämpningsområden. Avhandlingen har följande bidrag: (1) RecoBlock system-på-kisel plattformen bestående av flera rekonfigurerbara hårdvarukärnor, (2) en förenklad metod för att implementera Matlab modeller i rekonfigurerbara partitioner, (3) metoder för själv-läkande RTR feltoleranta system, t. ex. Upset-Fault-Observer, som själv-skapar hårdvaruredundans under operation, (4) utvecklandet av konceptet för kognitiv rekonfigurerbar hårdvara, (5) användningen av konceptet och plattformen för att implementera kretsar som kan användas i en okänd omgivning på grund av förmågan att fatta regel-baserade beslut, och (6) en förstärkande inlärnings-metod som använder en Q-algoritm för dynamisk feltolerans i prestanda-medvetna RecoBlock SoCs.

Avhandlingens vision är en ny klass av själv-adaptiva och kognitiva hårdvarusystem bestående av modulära run-time rekonfigurerbara hårdvarukärnor. Dessa system blir själv-medvetna om sin interna prestanda och kan genom inlärning optimera sina beslut för själv-organisation av de rekonfigurerbara kärnorna. Därmed skapas dynamisk hårdvaruredundans och självläkande system som har bättre förutsättningar att kunna operera i en okänd omgivning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2015. xiv, 83 p.
TRITA-ICT-ECS AVH, ISSN 1653-6363 ; 15:22
National Category
Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Information Engineering Embedded Systems Computer Systems
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-178000 (URN)978-91-7595-768-5 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-12-17, Sal C, Elektrum, KTH-ICT, Kista, 13:00 (English)

QC 20151201

Available from: 2015-12-01 Created: 2015-12-01 Last updated: 2015-12-02Bibliographically approved

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