Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Weijia Shang

Second Advisor

Gordon Brebner


The latest generations of FPGA devices offer large resource counts that provide the headroom to implement large-scale and complex systems. However, there are increasing challenges for the designer, not just because of pure size and complexity, but also in harnessing effectively the flexibility and programmability of the FPGA. A central issue is the need to integrate modules from diverse sources to promote modular design and reuse. Further, the capability to perform dynamic partial reconfiguration (DPR) of FPGA devices means that implemented systems can be made reconfigurable, allowing components to be changed during operation. However, use of DPR typically requires low-level planning of the system implementation, adding to the design challenge. This dissertation presents ReShape: a high-level approach for designing systems by interconnecting modules, which gives a ‘plug and play’ look and feel to the designer, is supported by tools that carry out implementation and verification functions, and is carried through to support system reconfiguration during operation. The emphasis is on the inter-module connections and abstracting the communication patterns that are typical between modules – for example, the streaming of data that is common in many FPGA-based systems, or the reading and writing of data to and from memory modules. ShapeUp is also presented as the static precursor to ReShape. In both, the details of wiring and signaling are hidden from view, via metadata associated with individual modules. ReShape allows system reconfiguration at the module level, by supporting type checking of replacement modules and by managing the overall system implementation, via metadata associated with its FPGA floorplan. The methodology and tools have been implemented in a prototype for a broad domain-specific setting – networking systems – and have been validated on real telecommunications design projects.