John Hauser

Augmenting a Processor with Reconfigurable Hardware

Ph.D. thesis by John Reid Hauser, University of California, Berkeley (Fall 2000).
252 pages.

Abstract: As VLSI technology continues to improve, configurable hardware devices such as PLDs are progressively replacing many specialized digital integrated circuits. Field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) are one class of such devices, characterized by their ability to be reconfigured as often as desired. Lately, FPGAs have advanced to the stage where they can host large computational circuits, giving rise to the study of reconfigurable computing as a potential alternative to traditional microprocessors. Most previous reconfigurable computers, however, have been ad hoc designs that are not fully compatible with existing general-purpose computing paradigms.
      This thesis examines the problem of combining reconfigurable hardware with a conventional processor into a single-chip device that can serve as the core of a general-purpose computer. The impact of memory cache stalls, of multitasking context switches, and of virtual memory page faults on the design of the reconfigurable hardware is considered. A possible architecture for the device is defined in detail and its implementation in VLSI studied. With basic development tools and a full-fledged simulator, several benchmarks are tested on the proposed architecture and their performance compared favorably against an existing Sun UltraSPARC. Some additional experiences with the architecture are also related, followed by suggestions for future research.

-> Adobe PDF document, 2000_Hauser_ProcWithReconfigHardware.pdf [1.2 MB].
(Figure 4.27 lost much of its luster in the translation to PDF format. The following is the original image for the partial layout of a Garp logic block: GarpLogicCell.png.)


John Hauser, 2004 August 5