FPGA-Based HW/SW Platform For Pre-Silicon Emulation Of RISC-V Designs (Barcelona Supercomputing Center)


A technical paper titled “Makinote: An FPGA-Based HW/SW Platform for Pre-Silicon Emulation of RISC-V Designs” was published by researchers at Barcelona Supercomputing Center and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya.


“Emulating chip functionality before silicon production is crucial, especially with the increasing prevalence of RISC-V-based designs. FPGAs are promising candidates for such purposes due to their high-speed and reconfigurable architecture. In this paper, we introduce our Makinote, an FPGA-based Cluster platform, hosted at Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC-CNS), which is composed of a large number of FPGAs (in total 96 AMD/Xilinx Alveo U55c) to emulate massive size RTL designs (up to 750M ASIC cells). In addition, we introduce our FPGA shell as a powerful tool to facilitate the utilization of such a large FPGA cluster with minimal effort needed by the designers. The proposed FPGA shell provides an easy-to-use interface for the RTL developers to rapidly port such design into several FPGAs by automatically connecting to the necessary ports, e.g., PCIe Gen4, DRAM (DDR4 and HBM), ETH10g/100g. Moreover, specific drivers for exploiting RISC-V based architectures are provided within the set of tools associated with the FPGA shell. We release the tool online for further extensions.
We validate the efficiency of our hardware platform (i.e., FPGA cluster) and the software tool (i.e., FPGA Shell) by emulating a RISC-V processor and experimenting HPC Challenge application running on 32 FPGAs. Our results demonstrate that the performance improves by 8 times over the single-FPGA case.”

Find the technical paper here. Published February 2024 (preprint).

Perdomo, Elias, Alexander Kropotov, Francelly Cano, Syed Zafar, Teresa Cervero, Xavier Martorell, and Behzad Salami. “Makinote: An FPGA-Based HW/SW Platform for Pre-Silicon Emulation of RISC-V Designs.” arXiv preprint arXiv:2401.17984 (2024).

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