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Prof. Hempstead of ECE Receives CAREER grant 

April 23, 2014

Mark HempsteadMark Hempstead, Ph.D., Junior Colehower Chair and Assistant Professor of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, has received a National Science Foundation CAREER grant.  His research entitled, “Combating Dark Silicon through Specialization: Communication-Aware Tiled Many-Accelerator Architectures,” focuses on how the computer industry’s steady gains in computing performance will slow and even cease all together because of a condition known as Dark Silicon. Dark Silicon is the result of an increase in power density that will make it necessary to leave sections of a microchip powered off. The consequences of Dark Silicon could be widespread, limiting the increasing benefits all aspects of society---from medicine, commerce to entertainment----have reaped from advances in computing. Currently, Hempstead leads research efforts to solve Dark Silicon problems by reducing the power consumed by computing devices in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department where his research group, Drexel Power-Aware Computing Lab, investigates methods to increase energy efficiency across the boundaries of circuits, architecture, and systems.

One solution to the Dark Silicon Problem is specialization. With the advent of high-level synthesis tools capable of generating circuits from high-level programming languages such as C, it is now possible to realize specialized accelerators for any application with 10-100x the efficiency of general purpose microprocessors. The computing industry needs new architecture paradigms to organize thousands of these accelerators. Prof. Hempstead envisions the computing platform of the future as comprised of domain specific tiles, each with 10-100 specialized accelerators. Hempstead’s research team will advance this vision with innovations in two aspects. First, by inventing a new memory-interconnect subsystem capable of keeping these specialized cores fed with data. Second, canonical tiles will be invented for different application domains that can studied by the wider research community.

The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program is the “National Science Foundation's most prestigious awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations. Such activities should build a firm foundation for a lifetime of leadership in integrating education and research.”