Xilinx’ acquisition of Falcon Computing Solutions announced this week will bring software programmability and adaptive computing to more software developers, by using Falcon Computing’s compiler technology to create custom high-performance accelerated applications using FPGAs and adaptive systems on chip (SoCs).
Falcon Computing Solutions is a provider of high-level synthesis (HLS) compiler optimization technology for hardware acceleration of software applications. Xilinx said the acquisition will make adaptive computing more accessible to software developers by enhancing the Vitis unified software platform with automated hardware-aware optimizations.
The integration of Falcon Computing’s compiler technology into the Vitis platform will allow software developers to accelerate C++ applications with minimal hardware expertise. Falcon Computing’s source code transformation reduces the need for application developers to adapt their code, or add architecture-specific programming directives, in order to achieve significant hardware acceleration.
“The growing demand for adaptive computing is driving a new era of FPGA adoption in the data center and embedded applications,” said Salil Raje, executive vice president and general manager for the data center group at Xilinx. “Falcon Computing’s innovative compiler technology and highly specialized compiler team will provide critical expertise that will advance software programmability and help bring the benefits of adaptive computing to more developers.”
The co-founder and chairman of Falcon Computing, Jason Cong, said, “Our compiler technology enables software developers to quickly achieve an order of magnitude acceleration over CPUs with very little knowledge of the FPGA hardware architecture, as our compiler provides a high degree of automation to optimize off-chip data movement, on-chip data reuse, memory partitioning, parallel and pipelined computation acceleration. The single-source Open-MP like programming style is very friendly to a large base of C/C++ software developers, especially those from the high-performance computing and embedded system communities.”
Falcon Computing’s products include the Merlin Compiler, which addresses applications that involve parallel computing with a mix of specialized hardware such as multi-core CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs. While hardware developers might have the expertise to deploy applications across these heterogeneous platforms, they are scarce as there is now a higher prevalence of software developers and data scientists in industry. To enable these software developers to perform the acceleration, the Merlin Compiler provides a familiar software flow with an automated C/C++ to FPGA. Hence Merlin bridges the gap between cognitive era applications and specialized hardware enabling software developers to enhance their application performance on heterogeneous platforms.
This is now the third company Cong has sold to Xilinx. As the Volgenau chair for engineering excellence at the Computer Science Department of UCLA, the director of the Center for Domain Specific Computing, a fellow of ACM and IEEE, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, Cong co-founded Falcon Computing in 2014. With roots in academia and research, Falcon Computing has been at the forefront of the new wave of FPGA adoption. Previously, Cong also co-founded AutoESL (which is now Vitis HLS) which Xilinx acquired in 2010 and Neptune Design Automation (now part of Vivado) which Xilinx acquired in 2013. Falcon Computing is headquartered in Los Angeles, California. The company serves enterprise customers and academic institutions across the United States and China.