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Reconfigurable Computing Research Pushes Forward

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Reconfigurable computing (RC) allows on-the-fly circuitry changes by programmers, theoretically enabling the hardware to be matched to the software. Alan George, director of the U.S. National Science Foundation's Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing (CHREC), says that challenges and objectives in three key high-performance computing areas — performance, productivity, and sustainability — "are vitally important yet increasingly in conflict."

George notes that many research studies indicate that RC yields superior speed and energy, thanks to the numerous benefits of adaptive, customizable hardware parallelism. "As a relatively new paradigm of computing, RC has started with emphasis in a few targeted areas, for example, aerospace and bioinformatics, where missions and users require dramatic improvement only possible by a revolutionary approach," he says. "As principal challenges — performance, productivity, and sustainability — become more pronounced, and as [research and development] in RC progresses, we believe that the RC paradigm will mature and expand in its role and influence to eventually become dominant in a broad range of applications, from satellites to servers to supercomputers."

CHREC's university sites are focusing on four areas of ongoing RC research — architecture, productivity, partial reconfiguration, and fault tolerance. In the architecture category, researchers are focusing on the characterization and optimization of new and emerging devices and systems, along with techniques to promote autonomous hardware reconfiguration. "In the future, RC will become more important for a growing set of missions, applications, and users and, concomitantly, it will become more amenable to them, so that productivity is maximized alongside performance and sustainability," George predicts.

From HPC Wire
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