"Low Cost Hypercomputing: Multi-Spartan Systems Using VIVA"

John Heath and Andrew Strelzoff
University of Southern Mississippi


Field Programmable Gate Arrays [FPGA] have become increasingly popular as an inexpensive and flexible alternative for integrated circuits.  The reprogrammable fabric of FPGA has enabled researchers to consider new architectures particularly massive or embarrassingly parallel means of solving time critical applications.  However, FPGA cost increases exponentially with fabric capacity.  Ten times the size equals one hundred times the cost.  This has been addressed by a number of researchers and vendors by assembling arrays of lower cost, lower capacity FPGA.  Most research has been directed towards the higher end of the market.

In our presentation we will discuss our research in the development of low-cost multi-Spartan III systems using VIVA.  Various topologies, data transfer and programming methodologies and their relative performance will be presented.  Several sample applications will be presented showing the performance cost tradeoff as more Spartans are added.  Our first aim in this research is to explore the relationship between FPGA fabric space and application performance in massively parallel hardware designs.  The second is to make low-end multi-FPGA systems easier to program thus facilitating the entry of other researchers, students and even hobbyists into FPGA programming. 


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