Brian C. Kahne
Master's Thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Tech in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Science
Bradley Department of Electrical Engineering
Peter M. Athanas, Chair
James R. Armstrong
Charles E. Nunnally
May 14, 1997
Configurable Computing is a technology which attempts to increase computational power by customizing the computational platform to the specific problem at hand. An experimental computing model known as wormhole run-time reconfiguration allows for partial reconfiguration and is highly scalable. In this approach, configuration information and data are grouped together in a computing unit called a stream, which can tunnel through the chip creating a series of interconnected pipelines.
The Colt/Stallion project at Virginia Tech implements this computing model into integrated circuits. In order to create applications for this platform, a compiler is needed which can convert a human readable description of an algorithm into the sequences of configuration information understood by the chip itself. This thesis covers two compilers which perform this task.
The first compiler, Tier1, requires a programmer to explicitly describe placement and routing inside of the chip. This could be considered equivalent to an assembler for a traditional microprocessor. The second compiler, Tier2, allows the user to express a problem as a dataflow graph. Actual placing and routing of this graph onto the physical hardware is taken care of through the use of a genetic algorithm.
A description of the two languages is presented, followed by example applications. In addition, experimental results are included which examine the behavior of the genetic algorithm and how alterations to various genetic operator probabilities affects performance.
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