Software apps and online services
The silicon industry is in for some major disruption. Just like the software industry was disrupted by the cloud, the silicon industry will be as well. Only this time, the disruption will be bigger!
Silicon is shifting from our offices, desktops, and phones into the datacenter. Amazon and others are incorporating Field-Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) into their infrastructure. These are customizable, programmable hardware. You can create and download a custom circuit to accelerate compute-intensive applications with blazing speed. You can access this hardware from anywhere and even incorporate it into a web application. Big instrustry will provide the ASICs and FPGAs for the datacenter, but, custom logic is moving from custom ASICs to programmable FPGAs, and these are now accessible to all of us!!! It is the little guys who will build custom application-specific logic from now on, not big industry.
But there is a problem. The infrastructure is still extremely immature. You need a ridiculous level of expertise to work with these FPGAs. This project aims to lower the barrier to entry substantially. We are building a generic framework for web applications to talk with could FPGAs. Standard web protocols, WebSockets and REST APIs will be able to stream custom data structures directly from software into hardware and visa versa. Our framework will manage the communication as well as the hardware provisioning and configuration. A hardware kernel can be provided as a microservice that application developers interface with just like a software microservice.
We have implemented a proof-of-concept application--a hardware-accelerated Mandelbrot explorer. It is hosted at fractalvalley.net, though without FPGA acceleration, since the FPGAs are still expensive to host, but here are a couple of flythrough videos.
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