In the last blog post we touched on the Amazon AWS FPGA resources that are available to build cloud services that are powered by FPGA’s. In doing further research we came across this nice blog post that goes into further detail about this FPGA offering by Amazon.
It is unique in that you can write VHDL/Verilog code to accomplish a task that is well suited to an FPGA and then easily package them up for sale on the AWS marketplace:
In addition to building applications and services for your own use, you will be able to package them up for sale and reuse in AWS Marketplace. Putting it all together, you will be able to avoid all of the capital-intensive and time-consuming steps that were once a prerequisite to the use of FPGA-powered applications, using a business model that is more akin to that used for every other type of software. We are giving you the ability to design your own logic, simulate and verify it using cloud-based tools, and then get it to market in a matter of days.
They even take the drudgery out of installing and using the Xilinx development tools by packaging everything up into a pre-installed Amazon Machine Instance (think virtual machine):
This AMI includes a set of developer tools that you can use in the AWS Cloud at no charge. You write your FPGA code using VHDL or Verilog and then compile, simulate, and verify it using tools from the Xilinx Vivado Design Suite (you can also use third-party simulators, higher-level language compilers, graphical programming tools, and FPGA IP libraries).
We would love to see if we could do the same thing with Xilinx ISE to help new Papilio users get started out without the huge download and time sink of the 6GB install.
The FPGA that you use is not a physical device that you purchase and have on your desktop, instead it is a PCI card with a powerful FPGA chip embedded in an Amazon server that you expose to the cloud once it runs your custom code… Pretty cool.