Context Switching Strategies in a Run-Time Reconfigurable system

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Virginia Tech

A distinctive feature of run-time reconfigurable systems is the ability to change the configuration of programmable resources during execution. This opens a number of possibilities such as virtualisation of computational resources, simplified routing and in certain applications lower power. Seamless run-time reconfiguration requires rapid configuration. Commodity programmable devices have relatively long configuration time, which makes them poor candidates for run-time reconfigurable systems. Reducing this reconfiguration time to the order of nano seconds will enable rapid run-time reconfiguration. Having multiple configuration planes and switching between them while processing data is one approach towards achieving rapid reconfiguration. An experimental context switching programmable device, called the Context Switching Reconfigurable Computer (CSRC), has been created by BAE Systems, which provided opportunities to explore context-switching strategies for run-time reconfigurable systems. The work presented here studies this approach for run-time reconfiguration, by applying the concepts to develop applications on a context switching reconfigurable system. The work also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of such an approach and ways of leveraging the concept for efficient computing.

Field programmable gate arrays, virtual hardware, multi-context, context switching, configurable computing, run-time reconfiguration