November 4, 2023
Conference Paper

FLASH: FPGA-Accelerated Smart Switches with GCN Case Study


Some communication switches, e.g., the Mellanox SHArP and those in the IBM BlueGene clusters, are augmented to process packets at the application level with fixed-function collectives. This approach, however, lacks flexibility, which limits their applicability in diverse and dynamic workloads. Recently, a new type of programmable packet processor, which uses high-level languages, e.g., P4, has emerged as possible candidates. P4-based switches, however, fall short in certain applications, including machine learning, where capabilities not currently supported by P4 are needed. These include more complex calculation, such as sparse computation and fused multiply-accumulate, data-intensive floating point operations, data reuse, and significant memory. The problem addressed here is that such a switch augmentation needs to support: a large amount of state, significant flexible compute capability, and ease of programming, all while maintaining full functionality, including ensuring high throughput, and demonstrating utility. In this work, we propose a programmable look-aside-type accelerator that can be embedded into, or attached to, existing communication switch pipelines and that is capable of processing packets at line-rate. The proposed in-switch accelerator is based on mixing an ISA (subset of RISC-V instructions) with dataflow graphs (found in CGRAs). To augment performance, vector instructions are also supported. To facilitate usability, we have developed a complete toolchain to compile user-provided C/C++ codes to appropriate back-end instructions for configuring the accelerator. While this approach is flexible enough to support various workloads, in this paper, we consider Graph Convolutional Networks (GCNs) as a case study. Experimental results show that this approach considerably improves the performance of distributed GCN applications.

Published: November 4, 2023


Haghi P., W. Krska, C. Tan, T. Geng, P. Chen, C. Greenwood, and A. Guo, et al. 2023. FLASH: FPGA-Accelerated Smart Switches with GCN Case Study. In Proceedings of the 37th International Conference on Supercomputing (ICS-2023), June 21-23, 2023, Orlando, FL, edited by 450–462. New York, New York:Association for Computing Machinery. PNNL-SA-167625. doi:10.1145/3577193.3593739