Reconfigurable Computing. Accelerating Computation with Field-Programmable Gate Arrays

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Edusmildo Orozco

Abstract

Reconfigurable Computing. Accelerating Computation with Field-Programmable Gate Arrays
by Maya B. Gokhale and Paul S. Graham
Springer, 2005, 238 pp.
ISBN-13 978-0387-26105-8, $87.20

Reconfigurable Computing Accelerating Computation with Field-Programmable Gate Arrays is an expository and easy to digest book. The authors are recognized leaders with many years of experience on the field of reconfigurable computing. The book is written so that non-specialists can understand the principles, techniques and algorithms. Each chapter has many excellent references for interested readers. It surveys methods, algorithms, programming languages and applications targeted to reconfigurable computing.

Automatic generation of parallel code from a sequential program on conventional micro-processor architectures remains an open problem. Nevertheless, a wide range of computationally intensive applications have benefited from many tools developed to tackle such a problem. For RC, it is even a much harder problem (perhaps 10x and up) and intense research is being devoted to make RC a common-place practical tool. The aim of the authors is threefold. First, guide the readers to know current issues on HLL for RC. Second, help the readers understand the intricate process of algorithmic-to-hardware compilation. And third, show that, even though this process is painful, if the application is suitable for RC the gains in performance are huge.

The book is divided into two parts. The first part contains four chapters about reconfigurable computing and languages. Chapter 1 presents an introduction of RC, contrasting conventional fixed instruction microprocessors with RC architectures. This chapter also contains comprehensive reference material for further reading. ChapterĀ 2 introduces reconfigurable logic devices by explaining the basic architecture and configuration of FPGAs. Chapter 3 deals with RC systems by discussing how parallel processing is achieved on reconfigurable computers and also gives a survey of RC systems today. Then, in chapterĀ 4, languages, compilation, debugging and their related manual vs. automatic issues are discussed.

The second part of the book comprises five chapters about applications of RC. Chapter 5 and 6 discuss digital signal and image processing applications. Chapter 7 covers the application of RC to secure network communications. The aim of Chapter 8 is to discuss some important bioinformatics applications for which RC is a good candidate, their algorithmic problems and hardware implementations. Finally, Chapter 9 covers two applications of reconfigurable supercomputers. The first one is a simulation of radiative heat transfer and the second one models large urban road traffic.

This book is neither a technical nor a text book, but in the opinion of this reviewer, it is an excellent state-of-the-art review of RC and would be a worthwhile acquisition by anyone seriously considering speeding up a specific application. On the downside, it is somewhat disappointing that the book does not contain more information about HLL tools that could be used to help close the gap between traditional HPC community and the raw computing power of RC.

Edusmildo Orozco,
Department of Computer Science,
University Of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras.

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Book review