Tuesday, 21 February 2012

PhD Research Position in Dynamic Circuit Specialization at Ghent University, Belgium

The Hardware and Embedded Systems (HES) research team of Ghent University’s Computer Systems Lab (CSL, csl.elis.ugent.be) offers a research position starting at the next possible date. The position may lead to a Ph.D. from Ghent University. The research will be conducted in the context of a European FP7 project called
FASTER (http://www.fp7-faster.eu/). FASTER will facilitate the use of reconfigurable technology by providing a complete methodology that enables designers to easily implement and verify applications on platforms with general-purpose processors and acceleration modules implemented in FPGAs. In this project, the HES group is responsible for all aspects that are related to Dynamic Circuit Specialization.

Dynamic Circuit Specialization is a technique to dynamically specialize an FPGA configuration according to the values of a set of parameters. DCS is closely related to partial evaluation, which is a technique used in software to generate specialized programs from a generic program, by fixing one of the arguments of the generic program. The general idea of DCS is that each time the parameter values change a specialization procedure is invoked that specializes the configuration of the FPGA for these new values. Since specialized configurations are smaller and faster than their generic counterparts, the hope is that the system implementation will be more cost efficient when using DCS, but of course, there is a catch. Every time the parameters change value, the specialization procedure needs to generate a specialized configuration and reconfigure the FPGA. This is called the specialization overhead. When the parameters change too frequently this overhead can negate the advantage of using the smaller and faster specialized configuration and thus render DCS useless.

The HES team has developed a tool chain that automatically generates a specialization procedure from a generic hardware design. The tool chain is based on the standard FPGA tool chain: synthesis, technology mapping, placement and routing. The HES team has developed or is developing adapted versions for each of these algorithms and we are looking for people that want to help to further develop the tool chain. We are looking for talented and creative people that are able to perform in many different disciplines. The work requires developing new software algorithms that solve the optimization problems in the tool chain. In order to do this you will need to develop a deep understanding of software algorithms, hardware design and low-level FPGA architectures.

Candidates should have a MSc in Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering, or Computer Science. Being fluent in English is a requirement. We are searching for top candidates that have excellent research skills, very good programming skills (in C, C++, Java), which are highly motivated, and have good communication skills. For this position, a good knowledge of and experience with hardware design is necessary. Knowledge of and experience with the reconfiguration capabilities of FPGA’s is desirable. You should be eager to push the state-of-the-art, and show your research results with working demonstrators and publications in top conferences and journals. You have an interest in international collaboration.

What we offer
We offer a challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious university through a fixed-term appointment for the period of 3 years (with the option of prolonging this term for another year in case a Ph.D. degree is aimed for). As an employee of the university you will receive a competitive salary as well as excellent employment conditions. Assistance for finding accommodation can be given. The university offers an attractive package of fringe benefits such as excellent technical infrastructure, child care, savings schemes, and excellent sports facilities.

UGent offers you also the opportunity for personal development by developing your social and communication skills.

More information can be obtained from prof. Dirk Stroobandt (Dirk.Stroobandt@UGent.be, +32 9 264 34 01). If you are interested in this position, please send a detailed curriculum vitae, a short explanation of your interest in the proposed research topic, a list of courses (including grades) that you have successfully completed, a publication list, copy of your best publication in English and the names of two references, and all other information that might be relevant to your application to Dirk.Stroobandt@UGent.be.

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