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A Glass Half Full: Using Programmable Hardware Accelerators in Analytical Databases

June 5, 2019

Even though there have been a large number of proposals to
accelerate databases using specialized hardware, often the opinion of
the community is pessimistic: the performance and energy efficiency
benefits of specialization are seen to be outweighed by the
limitations of the proposed solutions and the additional complexity of
including specialized hardware, such as field programmable gate arrays
(FPGAs), in servers. Recently, however, as an effect of stagnating CPU
performance, server architectures started to incorporate various
programmable hardware and the availability of such components brings
opportunities to databases. In the light of a shifting hardware
landscape and emerging analytics workloads, it is time to revisit our
stance on hardware acceleration. In this talk we highlight several
challenges that have traditionally hindered the deployment of hardware
acceleration in databases and explain how they have been alleviated or
removed altogether by recent research results and the changing
hardware landscape. Furthermore, I will discuss a new set of questions
that emerge around deep integration of heterogeneous programmable
hardware in tomorrow’s databases.

Presenter bio: Zsolt Istvan is an Assistant Research Professor at the
IMDEA Software Institute in Madrid, Spain. Earlier, he earned his PhD
in the Systems Group at ETH Zurich, Switzerland, working with FPGAs
and distributed storage. In his research, he explores ideas around
specialization as a way of lifting bottlenecks in distributed systems
and databases.