Publications / SAND Report

FPGAs in High Perfomance Computing: Results from Two LDRD Projects

Underwood, Keith; Ulmer, Craig D.; Hemmert, Karl S.

Field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) have been used as alternative computational de-vices for over a decade; however, they have not been used for traditional scientific com-puting due to their perceived lack of floating-point performance. In recent years, there hasbeen a surge of interest in alternatives to traditional microprocessors for high performancecomputing. Sandia National Labs began two projects to determine whether FPGAs wouldbe a suitable alternative to microprocessors for high performance scientific computing and,if so, how they should be integrated into the system. We present results that indicate thatFPGAs could have a significant impact on future systems. FPGAs have thepotentialtohave order of magnitude levels of performance wins on several key algorithms; however,there are serious questions as to whether the system integration challenge can be met. Fur-thermore, there remain challenges in FPGA programming and system level reliability whenusing FPGA devices.4 AcknowledgmentArun Rodrigues provided valuable support and assistance in the use of the Structural Sim-ulation Toolkit within an FPGA context. Curtis Janssen and Steve Plimpton provided valu-able insights into the workings of two Sandia applications (MPQC and LAMMPS, respec-tively).5