Design and Performance Evaluation of Optimizations for OpenCL FPGA Kernels

Anthony M. Cabrera, Roger D. Chamberlain
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri, USA
Proc. of IEEE High-Performance Extreme Computing Conference (HPEC), 2020


   title={Design and Performance Evaluation of Optimizations for OpenCL FPGA Kernels},

   author={Cabrera, Anthony M and Chamberlain, Roger D},



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The use of FPGAs in heterogeneous systems are valuable because they can be used to architect custom hardware to accelerate a particular application or domain. However, they are notoriously difficult to program. The development of high level synthesis tools like OpenCL make FPGA development more accessible, but not without its own challenges. The synthesized hardware comes from a description that is semantically closer to the application, which leaves the underlying hardware implementation unclear. Moreover, the interaction of the hardware tuning knobs exposed using a higher level specification increases the challenge of finding the most performant hardware configuration. In this work, we address these aforementioned challenges by describing how to approach the design space, using both information from the literature as well as by describing a methodology to better visualize the resulting hardware from the high level specification. Finally, we present an empirical evaluation of the impact of vectorizing data types as a tunable knob and its interaction among other coarse-grained hardware knobs.
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