Exploring the Benefits and Implications of Dynamic Partial Reconfiguration using Field Programmable Gate Array-System on Chip Architectures

  • Alexander Beasley

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Demands on modern computing are becoming more intensive. Keeping up with these demands has increasing complexity. Moore's Law is in decline. Increasing the number of cores on a device has diminishing returns. Specialised architectures provide more efficient and higher performing processors. However, it is not always practical to include every architecture on every device. Running non-native tasks on architectures often results in a drop in performance.
This research examines the benefits and limitations of Field Programmable Gate Arrays - Systems on Chip (FPGA-SoC) devices to provide flexible hardware accelerators for heterogeneous architectures. A number of topics are covered, including hardware acceleration of floating-point mathematical functions, dynamic reconfiguration and high-level synthesis. A number of case studies are presented. Dynamic reconfiguration is used to change the configuration of the FPGA at runtime, allowing the hardware accelerators to be changed depending on the current processor tasks. Changing accelerators at runtime has limitations, such as data perturbation. Context switching techniques are applied to the hardware to prevent loss of data and enable de-fragmentation of the FPGA. High level synthesis techniques are used in conjunction with the presented hardware accelerators to synthesise high-level languages into hardware descriptions with optimisations. Techniques for runtime synthesis of hardware accelerators are presented. These can be combined with dynamic reconfiguration to configure FPGAs with appropriate hardware accelerators from a high-level language at runtime.
The research demonstrates that FPGA-SoC devices have the potential for providing reconfigurable accelerators for processors in heterogeneous architectures. Metrics show that the FPGA configurations can perform better than other commercial processors. It was demonstrated that it is possible to context switch hardware at runtime, meaning the most can be made of the FPGA-SoC at all times, even as situations change. However, there are many limitations that still need to be overcome, such as management of the implemented hardware, synthesis of new hardware at runtime, reconfiguration times, interfacing of hardware with software and the design of hardware accelerators.
Date of Award13 Feb 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorRobert Watson (Supervisor) & Adrian Evans (Supervisor)


  • FPGA-SoC
  • Dynamic Reconfiguration
  • Partial Reconfiguration

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