Saturday, May 20, 2006

my daily headache

I've been toying with an IP core that allows me to access the FPGAs reconfiguration port from the internals of the FPGA. I've connected the reconfiguration port to a microblaze core running ucLinux, but I haven't actually got a method to do anything worthwhile. I'd like to get a Linux running on the dual PowerPCs so I can start to Kernel hack it and enable dynamic reconfiguration methods. I'm thinking to develop a "debug" mode that displays a picture of the FPGA on the screen and allows you to see and manipulate the configuration.

Paper of the day:
Operating systems for reconfigurable embedded platforms: online scheduling of real-time tasks
Steiger, C.; Walder, H.; Platzner, M.;
Computers, IEEE Transactions on
Volume 53, Issue 11, Nov. 2004 Page(s):1393 - 1407

This paper got me thinking about the "shapes" of our reconfigurable units. If we only think it rectangles we'll be horribly limiting ourselves, but if we use more complex shapes they will be extremely difficult to manage. This paper uses the term "fragmentation" to describe the wasteful effect of using rectangles and I think it's a good term to pick up. The effect is similar to fragmentation on a hard disk and "defragmentation" will be an important process to optimizing a 4-Dimensional Schedule (3-D space and time).

I like the fact that every paper I read on a reconfigurable computer operating system says something like "reconfigurable computing operating systems are a rather new area of research." How many times does that get written in the academic world before it can no longer be considered a new area of research?

It's really nifty to think about a "hardware configuration manager" sitting at the very bottom level of an OS. VMware is already in the "hardware virtualization" business. I wonder if anyone there had considered usign FPGAs to accelerate their platform?

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