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Proceedings Paper

Large-scale logic array computation
Author(s): Norman Margolus
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Paper Abstract

For a number of years, we have studied the large-scale fine-grained limit of cellular-logic-array calculations and computers-with particular emphasis on applications to physical simulation. Perhaps the most relevant lessons of this work for the FPGA community have to do with the applicability of virtual-processor techniques to these logic-array computations-and by extension to the design of FPGA's themselves. These techniques allow us to tradeoff speed against size, to balance resources devoted to data storage with those devoted to processing, and to time-share communication resources as we share processors. An application area of particular interest to the FPGA community is in logic emulation, where a virtual processing approach lets us maximize useful processor cycles by having processing hardware follow computational wavefronts through arrays of virtual logic ("temporal pipelining"). This technique is of direct relevance to FPGA design. Our virtual processor approach is embodied in our indefinitely scalable cAM-8 cellular automata (CA) machine. Personal-computer-scale prototypes, designed and built at MIT using 1988 technology, are still about as fast as any conventional computer for most large-scale physical CA applications. Using today's high-bandwidth DRAM'S, machine's with the same number of memory chips could be built that run 100 times faster. Rather than build a new dedicated CA machine processor, it is attractive to instead add appropriate DRAM I/O and data-buffering circuitry to an FPGA design, to create a general-purpose class of FPGA's optimized for large-scale virtualprocessor applications.

Paper Details

Date Published: 21 October 1996
PDF: 12 pages
Proc. SPIE 2914, High-Speed Computing, Digital Signal Processing, and Filtering Using Reconfigurable Logic, (21 October 1996); doi: 10.1117/12.255832
Show Author Affiliations
Norman Margolus, Boston Univ. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2914:
High-Speed Computing, Digital Signal Processing, and Filtering Using Reconfigurable Logic
John Schewel; Peter M. Athanas; V. Michael Bove; John Watson, Editor(s)

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