Somewhere around 2000-2001, the programmable logic devices known as FPGAs become large enough, fast enough and cheap enough to implement high-performance custom microprocessor systems, peripherals and memory interfaces in a single programmable chip. So, what do you do with a 32-bit "soft" CPU sitting in a completely programmable digital logic fabric? Port Linux to it, of course!
As it turned out, the kernel port was the easy bit. The hard part is making sense of the resulting computing environment where the hardware can change as easily and rapidly as the software. How do you handle system bringup when every system is different? How do you make the most of the massive computational resources of the FPGA? What is a dynamically self reconfiguring system, and why would you want to build one?
This overview talk will discuss some of John's technical adventures over the last few years, including both research and commercial applications of Linux on FPGAs. With any luck, he'll also bring some toys for show and tell.
As the architect and maintainer of the Linux kernel port to the MicroBlaze soft-CPU architecture, research fellow in Reconfigurable Computing at the University of Queensland, and through his role helping embedded systems manufacturers leverage this technology as head of PetaLogix, John has a unique perspective on this emerging and still rapidly-evolving technology.