Pioneering reconfigurable computing paper recognised


A PAPER authored by University of Sydney Associate Professor Philip Leong has been recognised as one of the most significant research works in the field of reconfigurable computing.

Conceptually, reconfigurable computing has been around since the 1960s. It has since evolved into the application of field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) to computational problems.

A similar approach is currently in use commercially by National Instruments, which is using FPGAs to blur the line between software and hardware.

According to Prof Leong, reconfigurable computing can be used to accelerate computationally intensive applications such as those found in signal processing, cryptography and computational finance.

However, a problem was the bottleneck between the FPGA and the host computer. To resolve this, Prof Leong published a paper in 2001 about a reconfigurable computing platform called Pilchard.

Pilchard had a memory slot interface instead of the standard PCI, to overcome the bottleneck problem. It was an easy to use, low cost and high performance platform for reconfigurable computing.

This paper was recognised as the 21st International Symposium on Field-Programmable Custom Computing Machines (FCCM) in California, as one of the 25 most significant papers from its first 20 years.

Since the publication of his groundbreaking research, Prof Leong’s has focused on developing novel hardware and software solutions for specific applications.

He now uses FPGAs as the basis of these systems, since they enable the development of problem-specific architectures that are orders of magnitude more efficient than microprocessor-based solutions, and also offer much lower power consumption.