MEMOCODE 2007 HW/SW Co-design Contest


1. Introduction


New to the 2007 MEMOCODE conference was the HW/SW Co-Design Contest. Members of the technical and steering committees from MEMOCODE 2006 thought that the co-design practice is distinct from conventional hardware or software design practice. A co-design contest was conceived to help elucidate these issues and to foster greater interest in the design aspects of the MEMOCODE conference. The contest would also serve to showcase advances in co-design tools and methodologies.


The 2007 contest was organized by Forrest Brewer, UC Santa Barbara and James C. Hoe, Carnegie Mellon University. The basic design challenge was to implement a high-performance Matrix-matrix multiplication (MMM) using any HW and SW design methodology and targeting any FPGA development platform of the contestants’ choice.  As stated explicitly in the call for participation, formal methods are encouraged but not required. The contest organizers provided a software-only starter reference solution for the Xilinx XUP development board.  The details of the problem was set to bias for solutions that combine both HW elements (to exploit the abundant concurrency and to efficiently carry out non-native-size complex arithmetic operations) and SW elements (to handle a wide range of problem sizes and to marshal data between main memory and on-chip buffers).  A performance metric is defined to allow normalization across implementation platforms of different capabilities.  For more details about the contest please see



2. Contest Results


The contest ran openly between Feb 15th to March 19th.  Nine teams of US and European university students started the contest.  However, ultimately, only two teams, from MIT and Virginia Tech respectively, successfully submitted a final design. Although this first running of the contest did not have the number of entrants and finishers as the organizers had hoped, the two finished entries are of very high quality and offer real technical contributions to share with the MEMOCODE conference audience.  Both the MIT and Virginia teams were invited to present at the MEMOCODE conference in Nice, France. 





The MIT team was voted as the winner of the 2007 design contest by the attendees at MEMOCODE 2007 and was presented with a 400 Euro honorarium during the conference banquet. (In addition to the cash prize, the organizing committee also provided travel grants to offset partially the travel cost of student team members.)


We welcome your comments about the contest.  We are developing the details of the 2008 contest.  Please stay tuned.


3 Acknowledgments


We would like to acknowledge Nokia and Bluespec for sponsoring this contest. We would like to thank Roland Wunderlich for providing the reference software implementation of the matrix-matrix multiplication.