October 19, 2007

FPGAs can accelerate repetitive computer operations up to 1000 times

FPGA processing accelerators have been developed. Warp processing" gives a computer chip the ability to improve its performance over time.

Here’s how Warp processing works: When a program first runs on a microprocessor chip (such as a Pentium), the chip monitors the program to detect its most frequently-executed parts. The microprocessor then automatically tries to move those parts to a special kind of chip called a field-programmable gate array, or FPGA. “An FPGA can execute some (but not all) programs much faster than a microprocessor – 10 times, 100 times, even 1,000 times faster,” explains Vahid.

“If the microprocessor finds that the FPGA is faster for the program part, it automatically moves that part to the FPGA, causing the program execution to ‘warp.’” By performing optimizations at runtime, Warp processors also eliminate tool flow restrictions, as well as the extra designer effort associated with traditional compile-time optimizations.

FPGAs can benefit a wide range of applications, including video and audio processing; encryption and decryption; encoding; compression and decompression; bioinformatics – anything that is compute-intensive and operates on large streams of data. Consumers who want to enhance their photos using Photoshop or edit videos on their desktop computers will find that Warp processing speeds up their systems, while gamers will immediately notice the difference in better graphics and performance. Additionally, embedded systems such as medical instrument or airport security scanners can perform real-time recognition using Warp-enhanced FPGAs.

This new method only uses the FPGA when it detects performance gains are being made. The computer with FPGA warp processing will adapt to each individuals specific workload. Therefore, this will have a wide impact and effortless impact on the part of the user.


Nerissa said...

I find it interesting that the human brain apparently uses the cerebellum as the FPGA processor for the cerebrum. Skilled tasks are first learned in the slower cerebrum and then the repetitive parts of these tasks are passed off to the faster cerebellum. Which is why, for example, dancing well is difficult to learn but pretty effortless once well learned.

Apparently, per the article linked to below, this sort of passing off happens not only with motor activities but intellectual ones too.

Consider the implications if the cerebellum also enhances repetetive emotional tasks. For example, most people are bisexual but quite frankly don't do a very good job of managing their love life until they decide (or various life issues motivate the change) to swing straight or gay. Once the decision is made I suspect that handling the details of sexual orientation becomes the job of the cerebellum.

My conclusion is FPGA like processing involving the cerebellum is what makes us who we are at a fundamental unconscious level. The cerebrum observes the resultant behavior and concludes over and over what we are: "I'm a great dancer", "I'm gay", "wow am I great in chess", etc.
The Treasure at the Bottom of the Brain
by Henrietta C. Leiner and Alan L. Leiner

One of the most impressive parts of the human brain, named the cerebellum, has been underestimated for centuries. Located at the lower back of the brain, it is a fist-sized structure whose function is now being reappraised. Formerly this structure was thought to have only a motor function, which it performed by helping other motor regions of the brain to do their work effectively. But during the past decade a broader view of its function has emerged as a result of new research, and now the cerebellum is regarded as a structure that can help not only motor but also nonmotor regions to do their work effectively....

Anonymous said...

More cores, FPGA, better architecture, more instructions, SSE and this all is marketing.