Earlier this month, Xilinx held a developer’s forum in Frankfurt, Germany and Xilinx’s Senior Director for Software and IP Ramine Roan discussed the growing role of Xilinx All Programmable devices in his opening remarks, which appear in a New Electronics article written by Neil Tyler titled “Resurgence of interest in FPGAs helped by new services via the Cloud.” Roane started by stating something that any design team already knows: CPU architectures are failing to meet the demand of increasing workloads because Dennard frequency and power scaling—often erroneously lumped into Moore’s Law, which is really about transistor and density scaling—essentially died several years ago after several decades of robust health. The current workaround—multicore architectures—rapidly hits its own limits in most embedded systems where there just aren’t enough tasks to distribute to dozens of processor cores.
The article then quotes Roane:
“There are too many transistors switching at the same time and current leakage at lower geometries is hitting power constraint limits, and this is all happening at a time when workload demand is growing exponentially both in the Cloud and at the edge.”
One solution, hardware application accelerators, only make sense if the production volumes are justified. For that you need a killer app said Roane.
Problem: there just aren’t that many killer apps.
The current situation plays to the strengths of Xilinx All Programmable devices, which can be reconfigured for a truly wide range of applications. “They provide configurable processor sub-systems and hardware that can be reconfigured dynamically,” said Roane.
The problem, of course, is that taking advantage of the programmable hardware resources in Xilinx devices has not been as easy as it might be. In the past, you needed specialized hardware-design skills; You needed to know Verilog or VHDL; You needed to wade into possibly unfamiliar hardware waters.
Roane emphasized that things are very different today. As the article states, “Xilinx and its growing ecosystem of partners are now delivering a much richer development stack so that hardware, embedded and application software developers can program them more easily by using higher level programming options, like C, C++ and OpenCL.”
“We are now able to deliver a development stack that designers are increasingly familiar with and which is also available on the Cloud via secure cloud services platforms,” added Roane, referring to Xilinx-based cloud acceleration offerings from Amazon Web Services (AWS EC2 F1 instances) and Alibaba Cloud.
For more information about Amazon’s AWS EC2 F1 instance in Xcell Daily, see: