A Desktop Computer with a Reconfigurable Pentium

L. Lu Shih-Lien, Peter Yiannacouras, Taeweon Suh, Rolf Kassa, Michael Konow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Advancements in reconfigurable technologies, specifically FPGAs, have yielded faster, more powerefficient reconfigurable devices with enormous capacities. In our work, we provide testament to the impressive capacity of recent FPGAs by hosting a complete Pentium R in a single FPGA chip. In addition we demonstrate how FPGAs can be used for microprocessor design space exploration while overcoming the tension between simulation speed, model accuracy, and model completeness found in traditional software simulator environments. Specifically, we perform preliminary experimentation/prototyping with an original Socket 7 based desktop processor system with typical hardware peripherals running modern operating systems such as Fedora Core 4 and Windows XP; however we have inserted a Xilinx Virtex-4 in place of the processor that should sit in the motherboard and have used the Virtex-4 to host a complete version of the Pentium R microprocessor (which consumes less than half its resources). We can therefore apply architectural changes to the processor and evaluate their effects on the complete desktop system. We use this FPGA-based emulation system to conduct preliminary architectural experiments including growing the branch target buffer and the level 1 caches. In addition, we experimented with interfacing hardware accelerators such as DES and AES engines which resulted in a 27x speedup.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalACM Transactions on Reconfigurable Technology and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Mar 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Design
  • FPGA
  • Measurement
  • Pentium R
  • Performance
  • accelerator
  • architecture
  • emulator
  • exploration
  • model
  • operating system
  • processor
  • reconfigurable
  • simulator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)


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