Microsoft announces availability of Project Catapult clusters based on FPGAs to researchers

Altera Microsoft Bing

Using FPGAs in the datacenter can dramatically accelerate performance and reduce power consumption, while holding the line on cost. At this year’s Supercomputing 2015 Conference in Austin, Texas, Microsoft announced the availability of Project Catapult clusters to academic researchers.

Project Catapult uses standard Microsoft datacenter servers—each augmented with field-programmable gate array (FPGA). While standard chips have their gates permanently etched onto the silicon, FPGA gates are implemented in such a way that their functionality can be changed on the fly. Therefore, FPGAs provide programmable logic that can be tailored to individual applications.

In the above video, Larry Larsen speaks with Doug Burger about the findings of a Microsoft Research and Bing research project that equipped servers with reconfigurable hardware, in the form of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), to accelerate datacenter services. Based on the success of the pilot, Bing will roll out FPGA-enhanced servers in one datacenter to process customer searches starting in early 2015.

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