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FPGA coprocessor

kinda baked, but not consumerized yet
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What it is, is essentially a upgradable FPGA coprocessor placed in a ZIF socket near the CPU.

Instead of always having to upgrade the CPU or the GPU for the next 'GPGPU' features, just have the program itself carry some netlist that they can use to accelerate themselves.

The benefit of this approach is that it allows for the program to create virtual hardware optimized specifically to solve its problem. Which would be much faster than the normal CPU, or even the 'shaders' in a GPU that tends to be oriented towards graphical problems.

It also future proofs the computer to a certain extent as long as you standardize the FPGA coprocessor, programming interface (so the first 10 pins can be specifically to reconfigure the processor, at each run), and liberally add excessive number of pins (not all has to be used). This is because the pins of the FPGA coprocessor can be reconfigured at will anyway.

Another cool feature of this processor is you can still apply multitasking to this, as there may either be enough floorspace for multiple different circuits for each program. Or you can quickly refresh the FPGA with different circuits every microseconds or so. (inspired by some company who is promoting an FPGA that simulates more gates than it has, by remembering each layers and flipping though each quickly)

It is also highly future proofed, since as long as you keep the programming procedure, protocol and the slot the same. You can still upgrade your old computer 5 years down the track, when they have FPGAs with 90000x the gates we currently have for our top end FPGAs.

REAL WORLD USAGE: You can decode the latest video, even if you don't have the latest 'Shader DX 90000000000' for your GPGPU enabled graphics card to process it fast enough.

mofosyne, Nov 13 2010

FPGA Coprocessor http://www.embedded...s/Altera.Fall03.pdf
Some article on FPGAs as coprocessors by Altera. [Jinbish, Nov 13 2010]

Intel launches FPGA-equipped Atom http://www.thinq.co...fpga-equipped-atom/
[xaviergisz, Nov 23 2010]

[link]






       //accerate// ???   

       This idea seems to assume that mainboards will provide pin slots and circuitry to cater for as yet undeveloped technologies? They can't even agree on decent standards protocols, here in the real world.   

       Seriously, computers are so cheap now that the idea seems a little pointless. You can get a very good machine for less than $500, so long as you avoid the big box retailers and their marketing hype.
infidel, Nov 13 2010
  

       The day may come when we're all rooting through landfill trying to cobble together working computers.
nineteenthly, Nov 13 2010
  

       Or, then again, it may not.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 13 2010
  

       I doubt we'll see that day in our lifetimes, [19].
infidel, Nov 13 2010
  

       Here's the thing, [Akimbo], you're right in that it is baked but not really prevalent in mass market consumer computing.
(Which I think is due to the fact that it is typically the processor & motherboard capability that would dictate whether a PC is obsolete or not)
Jinbish, Nov 13 2010
  

       The manufacturing chain is a thin veneer, and the complexity of the technology could easily be lost within one generation if not passed on effectively. Arguably we’re at a post-sustainable stage of western civ, whereby it will become progressively more expensive to carry on, and just frankly easier to give up.
Ian Tindale, Nov 14 2010
  

       //Arguably we’re at a post-sustainable stage of western civ//   

       I'd like to see you extrapolate that farther, [Ian T]
infidel, Nov 14 2010
  

       I do agree with you, [Ian], and i'm wondering about a lower-tech approach involving making rather less sophisticated computers accessed by means of multiple terminals, all constructed using - OK, you can see where this is going.
nineteenthly, Nov 14 2010
  

       or maybe work out a way to easily teach basic concepts to people... even if they can't read? And somehow shove it into some storage room? Preferably etched in glass?
mofosyne, Nov 14 2010
  

       The problem is getting hold of the stuff in useable form without the facilities to process it, well, that and the knowledge and experience. I was thinking more of something like integrated circuits inside thermionic valves. Batteries are easily makeable. If you can obtain two types of metal you can put one together with an organic acid. The problem with the bricks would be that there needs to be enough anticipation of the scenario to make that marketable.
nineteenthly, Nov 14 2010
  

       This is one of the best ideas I've seen on here in a long time.
mr_bigmouth_502, Nov 15 2010
  

       What about a ”field reworkable gate array” that can order new parts, desolder itself, fit the replacement parts, and make profit.
Ian Tindale, Nov 23 2010
  
      
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