This week at ISCA 2014 Andrew Putnam presented A Reconfigurable Fabric for Accelerating Large-Scale Datacenter Services (PDF).
Abstract: Datacenter workloads demand high computational capabilities, flexibility, power efficiency, and low cost. It is challenging to improve all of these factors simultaneously. To advance datacenter capabilities beyond what commodity server designs can provide, we have designed and built a composable, reconfigurable fabric to accelerate portions of large-scale software services. Each instantiation of the fabric consists of a 6×8 2-D torus of high-end Stratix V FPGAs embedded into a half-rack of 48 machines. One FPGA is placed into each server, accessible through PCIe, and wired directly to other FPGAs with pairs of 10 Gb SAS cables.
In this paper, we describe a medium-scale deployment of this fabric on a bed of 1,632 servers, and measure its efficacy in accelerating the Bing web search engine. We describe the requirements and architecture of the system, detail the critical engineering challenges and solutions needed to make the system robust in the presence of failures, and measure the performance, power, and resilience of the system when ranking candidate documents. Under high load, the largescale reconfigurable fabric improves the ranking throughput of each server by a factor of 95% for a fixed latency distribution—or, while maintaining equivalent throughput, reduces the tail latency by 29%.
- Rob Knies, Inside Microsoft Research: Catapult: Moving Beyond CPUs in the Cloud
- Altera: Altera Programmable Logic is Critical DNA in Software Defined Data Centers
- Jack Clark, The Register: Microsoft ‘Catapults’ geriatric Moore’s Law from CERTAIN DEATH
- Robert McMillan, Wired: Microsoft Supercharges Bing Search With Programmable Chips (Hacker News: comments)
- Mary Jo Foley, All About Microsoft, ZDNet: Microsoft to implement ‘Catapult’ programmable processors in its datacenters
- Peter Bright, Ars Technica: Bing doubles performance with FPGAs, will use them in 2015
- Michael Endler, Information Week: Microsoft Catapult: 2x Faster Bing Results
- Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOM: Why Microsoft is building programmable chips that specialize in search
- Electronics Weekly: Altera and Microsoft challenge big data
- Matt McGee, Search Engine Land: Microsoft’s Catapult Project Aims To Speed Bing Search, Improve Relevancy
- ZDNet article on Catapult datacenter accelerator (in Korean)