FPGA-Accelerator Research Infrastructure Cloud (FAbRIC)

Derek Chiou (PI, UT Austin), Arvind (MIT), Joel Emer (Intel/MIT), James Hoe (CMU), Shih-Lien Lu (Intel), and John Wawrzynek (Berkeley)

This material is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1205721 and generous donations from Altera, Bluespec, ImpulseC, Intel, and Xilinx.

Reconfigurable hardware has tremendous potential in terms of performance and power efficiency. However, the high cost of such systems, the high cost of the tools needed to program such systems, and need to program at a very low level together put such systems out of reach of most researchers. The FAbRIC (FPGA Research Infrastructure Cloud) project will acquire and maintain such systems and their tools in the Texas Advanced Computing Center for open use by all researchers. In addition, the PIs will port our own reconfigurable hardware "operating systems" to the platforms to dramatically improve their usability and our own applications to serve as starting points for future work.

Having an open, shared resource of this kind makes some of the highest performance computational power available to all researchers, regardless of their location or their ability to purchase and maintain such systems. The project team will run distributed classes for students and researchers to learn how to use such platforms. In addition, the default usage model of "open source to play" enables anyone who agrees to let the team publish their open source code to use the facility free of charge. Such a shared platform with free industrial-strength tools and open sourced code finally enables true reproducibility of research results and the ability to leverage others' work.

The award started June 1, 2012.  We are in the process of evaluating FPGA platforms to be included in FAbRIC.

In addition to NSF support, Altera and Xilinx have both committed FPGA donations and their entire suite of CAD tools, Intel has provided funds for the CAD tool servers, Bluespec has commited their Bluespec compiler, and Impulse Accelerated Technologies has commited their ImpulseC C-to-gates compiler.  We are in active discussions with other companies who are interested in contributing their technologies to FAbRIC.