12 FPGA Solutions for Big Data Applications

12.1 Introduction

We live in an increasingly digitized world where the amount of data being generated has grown exponentially – a world of Big Data (Manyika et al. 2011). The creation of large data sets has emerged as a hot topic in recent years. The availability of this valuable information presents the possibility of analyzing these large data sets to give a competitive and productivity advantage. The data come from a variety of sources, including the collection of productivity data from manufacturing shop floors, delivery times, detailed information on company sales or indeed the enormous amount of information currently being created by social media sites. It is argued that by analyzing social media trends, it should be possible to create potentially greater revenue generating products.

Big Data analytics (Zikopoulos et al. 2012) is the process by which value is created from these data and involves the loading, processing and analysis of large data sets. Whilst database analytics is a well-established area, the increase in data size has driven interest in using multiple distributed resources to undertake computations, commonly known as scaling out. This is achieved using a process known as MapReduce (Dean and Ghemawat 2004) which helps the user to distribute or map data across many distributed computing resources to allow the computation to be performed, and then bringing all of these computed outputs together, or reducing, to ...

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