Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Energy-efficient Many-core Is the PRiME Objective 

Electronic engineers and computer scientists in the UK are working to develop more reliable and energy-efficient many-core embedded systems as part of a new five-year program, called PriME. 

Electronic engineers and computer scientists in the UK are working to develop more reliable and energy-efficient many-core embedded systems as part of a new five-year program, called PRiME.

PRiME, which stands for Power-efficient, Reliable, Many-core Embedded systems, brings together four research groups from the universities of Southampton, Manchester and Newcastle and Imperial College London, with £5.6m in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

The project participants are focused on increasing the sustainability of many-core scaling through the use of holistic design methods and cross-layer system optimization. To achieve this goal, the university researchers will be working closely with five industrial collaborators: ARM, Imagination Technologies, Altera, Microsoft Research and Freescale.

Processor architectures are shifting away from pure performance and toward energy-efficient performance. Low-power, many-core chips are being looked at as a way to maximize performance per watt. Interest is coming from the embedded and mobile space, as well as the general-purpose and HPC markets.

The evolution of the microprocessor is virtually synonymous with modern-day progress. Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, from the University of Southampton and Director of PRiME, said: "Electronics and software have a tremendous impact on life, from the internet to consumer electronics, healthcare and transportation. Embedded systems, many of which will be low-power mobile devices, will be one of the most powerful tools in tackling global societal challenges.

"However, while many-core processing is viewed as a way to improve the performance of computing systems, the energy consumption and reliability of these systems with 100s or 1000s of cores has yet to be fully understood.

"Our vision is to enable the sustainability of many-core systems by preventing the uncontrolled increase in energy consumption and unreliability through a step-change in design methods and cross–layer system optimization."

The greening of processors is a worthy goal, especially considering their ubiquity. Over 10 billion processors were sold in 2011, and forecasts call for over 40 billion processors to be sold by 2020. The global market is worth an estimated 20 billion euro (nearly $25.8 billion), a figure that's growing 14 percent a year.

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