Tuesday, September 26, 2023

FPGAs in Data Centres: Opportunities and Challenges (Part 1)

V.P. Sampath is a senior member of IEEE and a member of Institution of Engineers India. He is currently working as technical architect at AdeptChips, Bengaluru. He is a regular contributor to national newspapers, IEEE-MAS section, and has published international papers on VLSI and networks Dr V.N. Ramakrishnan is an associate professor in Department of Micro & Nanoelectronics, VIT University, Vellore

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FFTW (Fastest Fourier Transform in the West) on heterogeneous compute nodes

Fig. 13: FFTW (Fastest Fourier Transform in the West) on heterogeneous compute nodes

Operating-system kernel extensions will be made available to all Power-Linux Little Endian distributions starting with Canonical’s Ubuntu. When the system boots with a CAPI device connected on a PCIe port, kernel extensions recognise the CAPI device. These perform personalised system initialisations, including configuration of the CAPP unit connection to the PCIe port.

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Fig. 14: Latency

Additional kernel extensions perform maintenance, system protection and communication functions. The client application uses a CAPI library called ‘libcxl,’ which provides multiple functions for the application to connect, call, communicate and disconnect with an available CAPI device. libcxl calls include many basic functions, such as those that allow the application to provide the virtual storage address of data structures to the accelerator. It also provides a memory-mapped I/O interface for the application to read/write registers in the accelerator’s register space on the FPGA.

Prior to CAPI, an application calls the device driver to utilise the FPGA accelerator. The device driver performs a memory mapping operation. CAPI connects a custom acceleration engine to the coherent fabric of the Power9 chip. Because FPGAs are reconfigurable, hardware can be customised without the traditional costs of hardware fabrication.

Standalone FPGA accelerator

Fig. 15: Standalone FPGA accelerator

A standalone appliance/accelerator is equipped with an FPGA, (optional) local memory and an integrated network controller interface (iNIC).The iNIC enables the FPGA to hook itself to the network and to communicate with other DC resources, such as servers, disks, I/O and other FPGA appliances.

Part 2 coming soon…



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