Category: Tutorials


Faster Facial Analytics using an FPGA

By Ruolong Lian,

Introduction

The quality and price of image sensors has seen a huge improvement over the past decade, we are now seeing increased adoption of cameras in the automotive sector. One new application is a driver facing camera that can monitor the driver for signs of drowsiness. If the driver is about to fall asleep, we can trigger an alarm. Implementing a system like this requires a camera and an embedded processor to analyze the video stream, looking for the driver’s face and performing facial landmark detection to determine the location of their eye lids.

We have recently worked with the company Eyeris who specializes in these facial analytics software algorithms. However, they were having a problem, the software algorithms ran too slowly on an embedded processor.  They came to Efinix, a company that specializes in programmable hardware acceleration platforms, who contacted us to help them convert this facial analysis written in software into hardware that can run on an FPGA.

In the video below shows three versions of the facial analytics demo. First, running on the embedded processor (~5 frames per second), then running on an FPGA (~13 FPS), and finally on a smaller video canvas (~15 FPS). You can see that the responsiveness improves tremendously by using the FPGA to accelerate this application. Eyeris showed this demo to some of their customers during CES this year:

 

… Continue reading

Amazon EC2 F1 Tutorial: Understanding the CL_DRAM_DMA example

By Ruolong Lian,

 

The CL_DRAM_DMA example demonstrates lots of the Shell/CL interfaces and functionality.  This blog post will walk through the custom logic (CL) portion of the example.  You may have found that this example has more than 6000 lines of SystemVerilog code but with very little comments.  To help you quickly understand the example from a high level, we created some block diagrams to overview the CL’s hierarchy, interface, connectivity, and functionality.  We will also dive into some major modules and go through the implementations.
… Continue reading

Amazon EC2 F1 Tutorial: The Shell-to-CL AXI-Lite interface used in the Hello World Example

By Ruolong Lian,

The “Hello World” example exercises the OCL Shell-to-CL AXI-Lite interface, the Virtual LED outputs and the Virtual DIP switch inputs. This blog post will walk through the custom logic RTL (Verilog), explain the AXI-lite slave logic, and highlight the PCIe APIs that can be used for accessing the registers behind the AXI-lite interface.
… Continue reading

Amazon EC2 F1 Tutorial: Step-by-step guide on running two examples on the Amazon FPGA Cloud

By Jongsok Choi,

Introduction

Amazon has recently announced the availability of their FPGA cloud, Amazon EC2 F1. We think that this is very exciting news, as it is the first time that FPGAs in the cloud are being available to the general public on a massive scale. This is the first step towards making FPGAs easier to use, as with the EC2 F1, a user no longer has to buy an FPGA and install it on site. FPGAs are typically much more expensive and cumbersome to buy than CPUs or GPUs, hence making them available in the cloud so that one can use them from anywhere around the world makes FPGAs much more accessible.

For more general information about their FPGA instances, visit their website at https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/instance-types/f1/

When the F1 instances first became available, we were excited to try them out, but we found that they were pretty difficult to use at first. Documentation was lacking (and incorrect in some case), and although Amazon provides a few examples with their AWS EC2 FPGA Hardware and Software Development Kit, the instructions to run the examples are scattered in different places and missing some steps. Understandably, they only released this service publicly in April 2017 and documentation may not have been their highest priority. To this end, we decided to write a unified guide which provides step-by-step instructions on how to run the two main examples provided by Amazon, cl_hello_world and cl_dram_dma, on the Amazon EC2 F1. This guide includes the instructions included in their AWS EC2 FPGA Hardware and Software Development Kit as well as information that we have written by trying out the examples ourselves. At the time of writing, we could not find such a step-by-step guide and we ran into issues here and there so we think that this guide will allow one to easily try out the F1 instances without getting stuck in some setup issue. So let’s dive right into it!

… Continue reading