Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering (PhD)

Degree Level



Computer Science & Computer Engineering


David Andrews

Committee Member

John Gauch

Second Committee Member

Michael Gashler

Third Committee Member

Xuan Shi


Applied sciences, CGRA, FPGA, Overlay, Reconfigurable architectures, System on chip, Virtual architecture


The state of the art in design and development flows for FPGAs are not sufficiently mature to allow programmers to implement their applications through traditional software development flows. The stipulation of synthesis as well as the requirement of background knowledge on the FPGAs' low-level physical hardware structure are major challenges that prevent programmers from using FPGAs. The reconfigurable computing community is seeking solutions to raise the level of design abstraction at which programmers must operate, and move the synthesis process out of the programmers' path through the use of overlays. A recent approach, Just-In-Time Assembly (JITA), was proposed that enables hardware accelerators to be assembled at runtime, all from within a traditional software compilation flow. The JITA approach presents a promising path to constructing hardware designs on FPGAs using pre-synthesized parallel programming patterns, but suffers from two major limitations. First, all variant programming patterns must be pre-synthesized. Second, conditional operations are not supported.

In this thesis, I present a new reconfigurable overlay, URUK, that overcomes the two limitations imposed by the JITA approach. Similar to the original JITA approach, the proposed URUK overlay allows hardware accelerators to be constructed on FPGAs through software compilation flows. To this basic capability, URUK adds additional support to enable the assembly of presynthesized fine-grained computational operators to be assembled within the FPGA.

This thesis provides analysis of URUK from three different perspectives; utilization, performance, and productivity. The analysis includes comparisons against High-Level Synthesis (HLS) and the state of the art approach to creating static overlays. The tradeoffs conclude that URUK can achieve approximately equivalent performance for algebra operations compared to HLS custom accelerators, which are designed with simple experience on FPGAs. Further, URUK shows a high degree of flexibility for runtime placement and routing of the primitive operations. The analysis shows how this flexibility can be leveraged to reduce communication overhead among tiles, compared to traditional static overlays. The results also show URUK can enable software programmers without any hardware skills to create hardware accelerators at productivity levels consistent with software development and compilation.