The Future of Computer Architecture Research
Speaker: Chuck Thacker , Technical Fellow, Microsoft ResearchContact:
Date: December 9 2010
Time: 4:30PM to 5:30PM
Host: David Gifford & Frans Kaashoek , CSAIL
Colleen Russell, 3-0145, Crussell@csail.mit.eduRelevant URL:
Until recently semiconductor manufacturers could depend on a predictable rate of improvement in their underlying implementation technologies. This progress enabled large improvements in capacity and performance of what were essentially legacy architectures. The academic architecture community helped; few papers described or evaluated
revolutionary approaches to computing. The software industry also benefitted from this approach, since old programs could be run on these evolutionary systems, which provided backward compatibility at every step.
This ability to improve the performance of these legacy architectures has now stopped due to limits on frequency scaling, power consumption, and design complexity. Semiconductor makers will continue to put more transistors on a chip of a given size every year, since Moore's law has not yet run out, but we will have to use these transistors in new ways.
This change will have profound effects on the way computers are built and on the software they will run. It will require a level of innovation and cooperation between hardware and software architects that we haven't seen for many years.
In this talk, I will describe the origin and nature of the barriers we now face, and speculate on some ways that we could avoid or overcome the limitations they impose.
Chuck Thacker has spent forty years in several industrial research labs. He received the BA in physics from U.C. Berkeley in 1967. He joined Xerox PARC in 1970, where he was responsible for the hardware of a number of innovative systems, including the Alto, the first networked personal computer, and the Ethernet, which is still the most successful local area network. In 1983, he joined the DEC Systems Research Center, where he was responsible for a number of networking and computing systems, including the AN1 and AN2 networks and the Firefly multiprocessor.
He joined Microsoft in 1997 to help establish the Company's Cambridge, England laboratory. After returning to the U.S. in 1999, he joined the newly-formed Tablet PC group and managed the design of the first prototypes of this new device. He has also worked on low-cost computing devices for elementary education, and is currently working in Microsoft Research Silicon Valley, where he leads a Computer Architecture group.
Chuck has published extensively, and holds a number of U.S patents in computer systems and networking. In 1984, he was awarded (B. Lampson and R. Taylor) the ACM's Software Systems Award for the development of the Alto. He is a Distinguished Alumnus of the Computer Science Department of the University of California, and holds an Honorary Doctorate from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH). He is a member of the IEEE, a fellow of the ACM, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering, which in 2004 awarded him, (with A. Kay, B Lampson, and R. Taylor) the Charles Stark Draper prize. In 2007, he received the IEEE John Von Neumann medal, and in 2010, he received the ACM Alan Turing Award.
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