Department for Application Specific Computing
University of Heidelberg
Secretary Tel: +49 621 181-2723
The Department of Application Specific Computing develops hardware/software systems for computationally demanding practical problems in science and industry. These hardware systems partly consist of hundreds of boards filled with special-purpose hardware for extremely high requirements, or of a single FPGA coprocessor for PCs for high-performance low-cost applications. The software comprises all levels from the application via operating system components to hardware related software for handling, monitoring and testing. Particular comprehensive know-how has been developed in the field of FPGA designs.
The Department of Application Specific Computing (formerly the Chair of Computer Science V) of the University of Heidelberg originates from a hardware development group founded 1979 at the Physics Institute of the University of Heidelberg. Its main developments were the Polyp multiprocessor with 30 nodes for nuclear physics data taking, and 1m2 systolic array of 28,600 processing elements for high-speed pattern recognition. This group was 1991 turned into a department of computer engineering at the University of Mannheim, led by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Männer. The hardware competence was complemented by software know-how so that application-specific hardware/software systems could be developed. Many developments used FPGAs after first devices were available. Among the developed systems were Synapse-1, a neurocomputer developed jointly with Siemens, VIRIM, a real-time volume visualization system, and a family of FPGA processors for high-speed data taking.
From 1993 on, an important field of application of the developed technologies was medicine. From the department, the Institute of Computational Medicine (ICM) was spun off with the main aim to develop application-specific systems for computationally demanding tasks. The ICM follows two main lines: Imaging and Virtual Reality (VR). Within the imaging line, systems have been developed for MR imaging, FPGA- and GPU-based reconstruction, segmentation, visualization, and image guided therapy. Within the VR-line, VR-based training systems have been developed for eye surgery, heart catheter intervention and colonoscopy.
1995 the department became one of the 7 departments of the newly established Mannheim Institute of Computer Engineering.
With its main focused on physics applications, its recent developments were a pattern recognition processor for DESY which was able to process 1 TB/s, and FPGA processors for data taking at the LHC at CERN, 600 of which have been deployed recently.
Among the current projects is the development of FPGA and GPU accelerated microscopy image read-out and processing, FPGA- and GPU-accelerated astrophysical simulation, optical tracking systems, and a VR-based neurosurgery training station.
Begin of 2008, the whole Institute of Computer Engineering became an part of the University of Heidelberg.
The department consisted of up to 80 persons (currently 34), mostly postdocs and doctoral students assigned to research work.
Due to the strong orientation towards practical applications, former doctoral students spun off 8 companies.
In August 2012 by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Männer retired. Part of the activities are continued by the Research Group Application Specific Computing.