CoRAM: An In-Fabric Memory Architecture for Portable and Scalable FPGA-Based Computing

Monday, November 05, 2012
6:00 PM
Free and open to the public

FPGAs have been used in many applications to achieve orders-of-magnitude improvement in absolute performance and energy efficiency relative to conventional microprocessors. Despite their promise in both processing performance and efficiency, FPGAs have not yet gained widespread acceptance as mainstream computing devices. A fundamental obstacle to FPGA-based computing today is the FPGA’s lack of a common, scalable memory architecture. When developing applications for FPGAs, designers are often directly responsible for crafting the application-specific memory hierarchy that manages and transports data to and from the processing kernels. This infrastructure not only increases design time and effort but will frequently lock a design to a particular FPGA product line, hindering scalability and portability. We propose a new FPGA memory architecture called Connected RAM (CoRAM) to serve as a portable bridge between the distributed computation kernels and the external memory interfaces. In addition to improving performance and efficiency, the CoRAM architecture provides a virtualized memory environment as seen by the hardware kernels to simplify development and to improve an application’s portability and scalability.

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Eric Chung

Microsoft Research Silicon Valley