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PLD: Fast FPGA Compilation to Make Reconfigurable Acceleration Compatible with Modern Incremental Refinement Software Development

Yuanlong Xiao, Eric Micallef, Andrew Butt, Matthew Hofmann, Marc Alston, Matthew Goldsmith, Andrew Merczynski-Hait and André DeHon
Proceedings of the International Conference on Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems, pp. 933--945, (March 1--3, 2022)

FPGA-based accelerators are demonstrating significant absolute performance and energy efficiency compared with general-purpose CPUs. While FPGA computations can now be described in standard, programming languages, like C, development for FPGAs accelerators remains tedious and inaccessible to modern software engineers. Slow compiles (potentially taking tens of hours) inhibit the rapid, incremental refinement of designs that is the hallmark of modern software engineering. To address this issue, we introduce separate compilation and linkage into the FPGA design flow, providing faster design turns more familiar to software development. To realize this flow, we provide abstractions, compiler options, and compiler flow that allow the same C source code to be compiled to processor cores in seconds and to FPGA regions in minutes, providing the missing -O0 and -O1 options familiar in software development. This raises the FPGA programming level and standardizes the programming experience, bringing FPGA-based accelerators into a more familiar software platform ecosystem for software engineers.

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