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International Journal of Reconfigurable Computing
Volume 2012, Article ID 241439, 10 pages
Research Article

The “Chimera”: An Off-The-Shelf CPU/GPGPU/FPGA Hybrid Computing Platform

The Centre for Gravitational Physics, Department of Quantum Science, The Australian National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia

Received 2 October 2011; Revised 4 January 2012; Accepted 4 January 2012

Academic Editor: Thomas Steinke

Copyright © 2012 Ra Inta et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The nature of modern astronomy means that a number of interesting problems exhibit a substantial computational bound and this situation is gradually worsening. Scientists, increasingly fighting for valuable resources on conventional high-performance computing (HPC) facilities—often with a limited customizable user environment—are increasingly looking to hardware acceleration solutions. We describe here a heterogeneous CPU/GPGPU/FPGA desktop computing system (the “Chimera”), built with commercial-off-the-shelf components. We show that this platform may be a viable alternative solution to many common computationally bound problems found in astronomy, however, not without significant challenges. The most significant bottleneck in pipelines involving real data is most likely to be the interconnect (in this case the PCI Express bus residing on the CPU motherboard). Finally, we speculate on the merits of our Chimera system on the entire landscape of parallel computing, through the analysis of representative problems from UC Berkeley’s “Thirteen Dwarves.”