Design of Reconfigurable Hardware Architectures for Real-time Applications

University dissertation from The Department of Electrical and Information Technology

Abstract: This thesis discusses modeling and implementation of reconfigurable hardware architectures for real-time applications. The target application in this work is digital holographic imaging, where visible images are to be reconstructed based on holographic recordings. The reconstruction process is computationally demanding and requires hardware acceleration to achieve real-time performance. Thus, this work presents two design approaches, with different levels of reconfigurability, to accelerate the image reconstruction process and related computationally demanding applications. The first approach is based on application-specific hardware accelerators, which are usually required in systems with high constraints on processing performance, physical size, or power consumption, and are tailored for a certain application to achieve high performance. Hence, an acceleration platform is proposed and designed to enable real-time image reconstruction in digital holographic imaging, constituting a set of hardware accelerators that are connected in a flexible and reconfigurable pipeline. Hardware accelerators are optimized for high computational performance and low memory requirements. The application-specific design has been integrated into an embedded system consisting of a microprocessor, a high-performance memory controller, a digital image sensor, and a video output device. The system has been prototyped using an FPGA platform and synthesized for a 0.13 ?m standard cell library, achieving a reconstruction rate of 30 frames per second running at 400 MHz. The second approach is based on a dynamically reconfigurable architecture to accelerate arbitrary applications, which presents a trade-off between versatileness and hardware cost. The proposed reconfigurable architecture is constructed from processing and memory cells, which communicate using a combination of local interconnects and a global network. High-performance local interconnects generate a high communication bandwidth between neighboring cells, while the global network provides flexibility and access to external memory. The processing and memory cells are run-time reconfigurable to enable flexible application mapping. Proposed reconfigurable architectures are modeled and evaluated using Scenic, which is a system-level exploration environment developed in this work. A design with 16 cells is implemented and synthesized for a 0.13 ?m standard cell library, resulting in low area overhead when compared with application-specific solutions. It is shown that the proposed reconfigurable architecture achieves high computation performance compared to traditional DSP processors.

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