Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Computer Scientists Leverage Dark Silicon to Improve Smartphone Battery Life

An overview of the GreenDroid project from computer scientists at UC San Diego.
An overview of the GreenDroid project from computer scientists at UC San Diego.

Abstract:
GreenDroid chip prototype will deliver improved performance through specialized processors

By Daniel Kane

Computer Scientists Leverage Dark Silicon to Improve Smartphone Battery Life

La Jolla, CA | Posted on September 2nd, 2010

A new smartphone chip prototype under development at the University of California, San Diego will improve smartphone efficiency by making use of "dark silicon" - the underused transistors in modern microprocessors. On August 23, UC San Diego computer scientists presented GreenDroid, the new smartphone chip prototype at the HotChips symposium in Palo Alto, CA.

Dark silicon refers to the huge swaths of silicon transistors on today's chips that are underused because there is not enough power to utilize all the transistors at the same time. The new GreenDroid chip prototype from computer scientists at UC San Diego will deliver improved performance through specialized processors fashioned from dark silicon. These processors are designed to run heavily used chunks of code, called "hot code," in Google's Android smartphone platform.

Computer science professors Michael Taylor and Steven Swanson from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering are leading the project.

"This is an exciting time for UCSD. Our students are designing a real multicore processing chip, in an advanced technology, that is simultaneously advancing the state-of-the art in both smartphone and processor design. This marks the first of what I hope is many such chips that will come out of the UCSD research community," said Taylor.

The GreenDroid presentation at HotChips caught the attention of IEEE Spectrum, EETimes and LightReading, which all ran stories.

While chip makers can now make similar types of specialized processors by hand, the UC San Diego computer scientists developed a fully automated system. It generates blueprints for specialized processors, called conservation cores, from source code extracted from applications.

GreenDroid conservation cores use 11 times less energy per instruction than an aggressive mobile application processor. Accounting for code running outside the conservation core still results in an increase in efficiency of 7.5 times compared to an aggressive mobile application processor, according to the computer scientists' HotChips presentation.

"Smartphones are a perfect match for our approach, since users spend most of their time running a core set of applications, and they demand long battery life. As mobile applications become more sophisticated, it's going to be harder and harder to meet that challenge. Conservation cores offer a solution that exploits a resource that will soon be quite plentiful - dark silicon," said Swanson.

Conservation cores also incorporate focused reconfigurability that allows them to adapt to small changes in the target application while still delivering efficiency gains.

Dark Silicon

This work is motivated by the growing problem of dark silicon, which refers to transistors on microprocessors that are forced to remain off most of the time because of power constraints.

"We don't have enough power to use all the transistors at once - that is the ‘utilization wall,'" said UC San Diego computer science graduate student Nathan Goulding who presented the team's GreenDroid chip at HotChips. Goulding led GreenDroid development, which is one part of the larger conservation core project.

"The utilization wall will change the way everyone builds processors," the computer scientists reported in their HotChips talk.

If this utilization wall problem is not solved, more transistors on computer chips will not necessarily lead to improved performance or problem solving capacity in each new chip generation.

Automated Hardware Maker

As a real-world prototype, the computer scientists from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering used dark silicon to build specialized circuits for specific tasks frequently performed by popular smartphone applications such as Web browsers, email software and music players. The computer scientists asked ‘where does most of the computation happen?'

They took answers to this question, and fed the relevant code into their automated tool chain.

"A chip that does MP3 decoding…people can build specialized logic for this by hand, but it's an enormous amount of effort and this doesn't scale well. Our approach is automated," said Goulding.

The computer scientists input pieces of code shared by multiple software applications for Android phones. The output at the end of the automated chain is a blueprint for specialized hardware. This specialized hardware will only execute some regions of the software code. The rest of the code, known as "cold code", is executed by the phone's general processor.

The computer scientists chose a smartphone for their chip prototype because mobile handsets are the new dominant computing platform. "Smartphones are going to be everywhere," said Goulding, "We said to ourselves, ‘let's make a prototype chip that saves energy on Android phones.'"

Learn more about GreenDroid at greendroid.ucsd.edu

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact
Daniel Kane

(858)534-3262

Copyright © University of California, San Diego

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors January 20th, 2018

New Method Uses DNA, Nanoparticles and Top-Down Lithography to Make Optically Active Structures: Technique could lead to new classes of materials that can bend light, such as for those used in cloaking devices January 18th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Announces Pricing of Underwritten Public Offering of Common Stock January 18th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Possible Futures

New Method Uses DNA, Nanoparticles and Top-Down Lithography to Make Optically Active Structures: Technique could lead to new classes of materials that can bend light, such as for those used in cloaking devices January 18th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Announces Pricing of Underwritten Public Offering of Common Stock January 18th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Nanowrinkles could save billions in shipping and aquaculture Surfaces inspired by carnivorous plants delay degradation by marine fouling January 17th, 2018

Chip Technology

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors January 20th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing January 17th, 2018

'Gyroscope' molecules form crystal that's both solid and full of motion: New type of molecular machine designed by UCLA researchers could have wide-ranging applications in technology and science January 16th, 2018

Nanoelectronics

Viewing atomic structures of dopant atoms in 3-D relating to electrical activity in a semiconductor December 28th, 2017

Electronically-smooth '3-D graphene': A bright future for trisodium bismuthide: Electronically-smooth nature of trisodium bismuthide makes it a viable alternative to graphene/h-BN December 22nd, 2017

Columbia engineers create artificial graphene in a nanofabricated semiconductor structure: Researchers are the first to observe the electronic structure of graphene in an engineered semiconductor; finding could lead to progress in advanced optoelectronics and data processing December 13th, 2017

GLOBALFOUNDRIES, Fudan Team to Deliver Next Generation Dual Interface Smart Card November 14th, 2017

Announcements

Thanks for the memory: NIST takes a deep look at memristors January 20th, 2018

New Method Uses DNA, Nanoparticles and Top-Down Lithography to Make Optically Active Structures: Technique could lead to new classes of materials that can bend light, such as for those used in cloaking devices January 18th, 2018

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals Announces Pricing of Underwritten Public Offering of Common Stock January 18th, 2018

Leti to Demo New Curving Technology at Photonics West that Improves Performance of Optical Components January 18th, 2018

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing January 17th, 2018

Novel MOF shell-derived surface modification of Li-rich layered oxide cathode December 29th, 2017

Paving the way for a non-electric battery to store solar energy: UMass Amherst scientists say a polymer chain organized like a string of Christmas lights assists energy storage December 22nd, 2017

Sandia researchers make solid ground toward better lithium-ion battery interfaces: Reducing the traffic jam in batteries December 13th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project