"Intelligent and Reconfigurable Edge of the Network Computing- Reaping the Benefits by Moving Applications to the Network"

John Meier and Tirumale Ramesh
The Boeing Company


There is a general trend today for moving military systems from platform-centric to network-centric. Boeing is one of the key players in Network-Centric Operations (NCO) in which shared situational awareness is created by networking operational agents based on common operating information and setting up local agents to make quick decisions with increase speed of operations and computing resource sharing.  The technologies and market for wireless networks are pushing the envelope to look for cognitive networks to support the NCO needs with use of underlying technologies.  One such technology is the on-the field reconfigurable technologies integrated with other key device and communication technologies. In this paper we evaluate advanced networking trends using advanced embedded hardware for applications including mobile Ad Hoc networks. We describe the joint operation of two heterogeneous networks a cognitive architecture to achieve an optimum QoS, security and reliability. Multiple embedded hardware and software co-design based architectures are compared, including Boeing’s Super Reconfigurable Fabric Architecture1 (SuRFA).

SuRFA is a reconfigurable data stream core combining coarse-grain FPGA architecture with Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) and Multiple SIMD parallel processing elements. The cognitive architecture can be implemented as a hybrid solution (embedded processor plus SuRFA) system-on-a chip with SuRFA fully embedded with high performance data stream processors.  This paper also presents some basic elements of SuRFA application for cognitive and reconfigurable network architecture to support the edge of the network processing.

One of the main components of SuRFA is Reconfigurable Communication and Control Fabric (RCCF) built with fine-grain FPGA architecture. SuRFA’s usage is more generic for both board level solution and embedded SoC. Today there are various I/O and switch fabric standards in place such as PCI-Express, Infiniband, RapidIO, etc and new standards may emerge in the future.  To make the high performance computing independent of I/O standards and hardware vendors, standard bus protocol is mapped to the Virtual Bus Interface (VBI). SuRFA control is based on distributed Configurable VLIW (CVLIW) controller. Each processing element with data width configurable from 8, 16, 32 and 64-bits has simple but signal/image processing rich instructions to execute within configurable pipeline architecture.  Configuration memory is built into RCCF for configuration of data path widths, pipeline stages within each processing elements.

1US Patent Pending

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