Since we made Amazon EC2 F1 instances generally available last year, we have seen exciting adoption by customers, partners and the developer and research community. Customers are using F1 for accelerating a diverse set of applications such as genomic processing, data analytics, security, image and video processing and machine learning.

Today we are announcing new features and updated capabilities that allow developers to create more performant and feature-rich hardware accelerators using Amazon EC2 F1 instances.

For software developers looking to harness the power of FPGAs and build custom hardware accelerations, we have upgraded the Amazon FPGA software defined development flow with a new FPGA Developer AMI version. The new development tools now support up to 60 kernels (compared to 16 in previous versions) enabling more compute for C /C++ based accelerators.

In addition, based on customer feedback, the direct memory access (DMA) performance has been improved by 5x, allowing the FPGA acceleration engine to stream data to/from the CPU at high speed and increase application performance.

To help offload the non-differentiated tasks of building an FPGA application such as transferring data to/from the host CPU and accessing onboard DRAM from the FPGA, we provide an Amazon FPGA Shell that provides pre-configured, pre-tested, and secure I/O components. With this release we are making the new Amazon FPGA v1.4 Shell reconfigurable, allowing developers to have future-proof designs. Simply put, this means that developers can decide if they’d like to upgrade Shell versions as they become available, compared to previous Shells that were mandatory upgrades. We also added a new capability that allows developers to retain data in the FPGA attached DRAM while swapping Amazon FPGA Images (AFIs) at runtime, which effectively decreases load times of certain AFIs, as there is no need to move data to/from the host into the FPGA DRAM when a new AFI is loaded.

Developers can also take advantage of the growing marketplace of F1 instances based offerings from AWS Partners and other developers, ranging from video encoding to data analytics. All of these new features and upgrades are available for F1 instances in 4 AWS regions – US East (N. Virginia), US West (Oregon), EU (Ireland) and AWS GovCloud (US) regions.

For a complete list of new feature and upgrades, please click here.