Reining in Fabrication Cost with Brick and Mortar Chips

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 12:48pm

Computer Engineering Program, Faculty Candidate Seminar
TIME: 9:00 – 10:00 a.m.
PLACE: Engineering Science Building, Room 2001

Over the years Moore’s Law has provided exponential growth in the raw computational resources available to hardware architects. At the same time, however, chip fabrication costs have also skyrocketed, resulting in expenses that relatively few institutions can afford. As part of my dissertation, I have proposed “brick and mortar” chips to mitigate these high fabrication costs while offering the performance and integration of a modern ASIC. This work includes several architectural design choices and innovations, including a polymorphic on-chip network design. I will demonstrate multiple modes of network customization that this design allows, including topology and buffering resources. This single polymorphic network fabric can be configured to mimic the topology and performance of optimally designed application-specific networks with no appreciable overhead. This network is not only a critical enabler of brick and mortar-based designs, but has broad applicability to any chip requiring an on-chip network. When used with brick and mortar, however, low-cost, high-performance custom chips can become a reality.

Martha Mercaldi Kim is a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. Prior to moving to Seattle she earned her B.A. in Computer Science at Harvard University and a M. Eng. in Embedded Systems Design from the University of Lugano in Lugano, Switzerland. Her research interests are in computer architecture, particularly its boundaries: in the hardware/software interaction, as well as the architecture/circuit interaction. As a graduate student she was a member of the WaveScalar research group and developed an architecture to enable reduced-cost chip designs.