Gustavo Alonso gave a keynote talk entitled "Data Processing on the Fast Lane" at 26th International Conference on Field-Programmable Logic and Applications (FPL 2016) in Lausanne.
Data processing is changing in radical ways. On the one hand, data science and big data have brought an unprecedented growth and variety in data sizes, demanding workloads, data types, and applications. On the other hand, hardware is no longer a source of performance as it has been in the last decades. Instead, it has become a complex, fast evolving, highly specialized, and heterogeneous platform that requires considerable tuning and effort to use optimally. In this talk I will discuss the problem, arguing that there is an opportunity for specialized designs based on FPGAs and showing the challenges to data processing resulting from modern hardware. I will illustrate the points with examples from research and recent developments from industry to argue there is a significant opportunity for FPGAs in data centers if one focuses on the correct problems and finds the proper architecture for the complete system.