Towards the development of flexible, reliable, reconfigurable, and high-performance imaging systems
Khalifat, Jalal Mohamed
Current FPGAs can implement large systems because of the high density of reconfigurable logic resources in a single chip. FPGAs are comprehensive devices that combine flexibility and high performance in the same platform compared to other platform such as General-Purpose Processors (GPPs) and Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). The flexibility of modern FPGAs is further enhanced by introducing Dynamic Partial Reconfiguration (DPR) feature, which allows for changing the functionality of part of the system while other parts are functioning. FPGAs became an important platform for digital image processing applications because of the aforementioned features. They can fulfil the need of efficient and flexible platforms that execute imaging tasks efficiently as well as the reliably with low power, high performance and high flexibility. The use of FPGAs as accelerators for image processing outperforms most of the current solutions. Current FPGA solutions can to load part of the imaging application that needs high computational power on dedicated reconfigurable hardware accelerators while other parts are working on the traditional solution to increase the system performance. Moreover, the use of the DPR feature enhances the flexibility of image processing further by swapping accelerators in and out at run-time. The use of fault mitigation techniques in FPGAs enables imaging applications to operate in harsh environments following the fact that FPGAs are sensitive to radiation and extreme conditions. The aim of this thesis is to present a platform for efficient implementations of imaging tasks. The research uses FPGAs as the key component of this platform and uses the concept of DPR to increase the performance, flexibility, to reduce the power dissipation and to expand the cycle of possible imaging applications. In this context, it proposes the use of FPGAs to accelerate the Image Processing Pipeline (IPP) stages, the core part of most imaging devices. The thesis has a number of novel concepts. The first novel concept is the use of FPGA hardware environment and DPR feature to increase the parallelism and achieve high flexibility. The concept also increases the performance and reduces the power consumption and area utilisation. Based on this concept, the following implementations are presented in this thesis: An implementation of Adams Hamilton Demosaicing algorithm for camera colour interpolation, which exploits the FPGA parallelism to outperform other equivalents. In addition, an implementation of Automatic White Balance (AWB), another IPP stage that employs DPR feature to prove the mentioned novelty aspects. Another novel concept in this thesis is presented in chapter 6, which uses DPR feature to develop a novel flexible imaging system that requires less logic and can be implemented in small FPGAs. The system can be employed as a template for any imaging application with no limitation. Moreover, discussed in this thesis is a novel reliable version of the imaging system that adopts novel techniques including scrubbing, Built-In Self Test (BIST), and Triple Modular Redundancy (TMR) to detect and correct errors using the Internal Configuration Access Port (ICAP) primitive. These techniques exploit the datapath-based nature of the implemented imaging system to improve the system's overall reliability. The thesis presents a proposal for integrating the imaging system with the Robust Reliable Reconfigurable Real-Time Heterogeneous Operating System (R4THOS) to get the best out of the system. The proposal shows the suitability of the proposed DPR imaging system to be used as part of the core system of autonomous cars because of its unbounded flexibility. These novel works are presented in a number of publications as shown in section 1.3 later in this thesis.