Brown University professor Sherief Reda is studying ways to increase the energy efficiency of computing systems without sacrificing performance.
One of his projects examines the possibility of using conventional computer chips to replace those currently found in supercomputers. "If we aggregate a larger number of these smaller processors, can you get the same performance you would get from a few high-end processors but with much higher energy efficiency?" Reda asks.
To answer this question, Reda is creating a large-scale cluster consisting of hundreds of low-power nodes that are connected with a high-bandwidth torus network. Each node is composed of a low-power 64-bit system-on-a-chip processor similar to the ones used in mobile devices.
Most of the research takes place at Brown's Scalable Computing Systems Laboratory, which he founded in 2006. Reda plans to use these systems to devise more revolutionary research and generate more funding. "We are doing world-class research but one of our problems is critical mass," he says.
Reda thinks the research could be applied to weather forecasting, climate research, and cloud computing services, among other fields.
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