Is Hardware Innovation Over?

Wednesday, October 7th 2009, 4:00pm
302 Building, Room 105


My colleagues, promotion committees, research funding agencies and business people often wonder if there is need for any architecture research. There seems to be no room to dislodge Intel IA-32. Even the number of new Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) seems to be declining each year, because of the ever-increasing development cost.

This viewpoint ignores another reality which is that the future will be dominated by mobile devices such as smart phones and the infrastructure needed to support consumer services on these devices. This is already restructuring the IT industry. To the first-order, in the mobile world functionality is determined by what can be supported within a 3W power budget. The only way to reduce power by one to two orders of magnitude is via functionally specialized hardware blocks. A fundamental shift is needed in the current design flow of systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) to produce them in a less-risky and cost-effective manner.

In this talk we will present, via examples, a method of designing systems that facilitates the synthesis of complex SoCs from reusable "IP" modules. The technical challenge is to provide a method for connecting modules in a parallel setting so that the functionality and the performance of the composite are predictable.

Speaker Bio

Arvind is the Johnson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT and is currently visiting Seoul National University under the WCU program. Arvind's group, in collaboration with Motorola, built the Monsoon dataflow machines and its associated software in the late eighties. In 2000, Arvind started Sandburst which was sold to Broadcom in 2006. In 2003, Arvind co-founded Bluespec Inc., an EDA company to produce a set of tools for high-level synthesis. In 2001, Dr. R. S. Nikhil and Arvind published the book "Implicit parallel programming in pH". Arvind's current research focus is on enabling rapid development of embedded systems.

Arvind is a Fellow of both IEEE and ACM, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.