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Batten to create new class of heterogeneous computer architectures with novel software/hardware abstraction

Friday, September 4, 2015

ECE’s Christopher Batten recently received an Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Research Program Award for his proposal, “Exploiting Amorphous Data Parallelism through Software and Architecture Co-Design.” This work will enable a new class of heterogeneous computer architectures with a novel software/hardware abstraction and significantly improved performance and efficiency compared to what is now available.

Batten’s project is motivated by the serious technology challenges that are breaking down traditional abstractions in computer systems. Power and energy efficiency are now first-order design constraints from supercomputers to embedded systems, and the roadmap for standard CMOS technology has never been more challenging. In response to these technology trends, computer system designers are increasingly turning to a heterogeneous mix of general-purpose multicores and data-parallel accelerators integrated onto a single die. Unfortunately, this heterogeneity clearly increases complexity and costs at all levels of the computing stack.

To complicate matters further, emerging application workloads often exhibit amorphous data-parallelism with irregular control flow, unstructured data accesses, atomic tasks, and dynamic work generation. Significant breakthroughs to address these challenges will not happen by exploring either software or hardware in isolation. As such, Batten’s project will use a cross-layer approach to rethink the software and hardware for heterogeneous systems with specific attention to efficiently supporting amorphous data parallelism.

The Air Force Office of Scientific Research awarded approximately $16.6 million in grants to 57 scientists and engineers from 43 research institutions and small businesses that submitted winning research proposals through the Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program (YIP) in 2015. The YIP is open to scientists and engineers at research institutions across the United States who received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years and who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research. The objective of this program is to foster creative basic research in science and engineering, enhance early career development of outstanding young investigators, and increase opportunities for the young investigators to recognize the Air Force mission and the related challenges in science and engineering.

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