Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Computing experts unveil superefficient 'inexact' chip: Rice University experts challenge computing dogma, win 'best paper' accolades

In terms of speed, energy consumption and size, inexact computer chips like this prototype, are about 15 times more efficient than today's microchips.
CREDIT: Avinash Lingamneni/Rice University/CSEM
In terms of speed, energy consumption and size, inexact computer chips like this prototype, are about 15 times more efficient than today's microchips.

CREDIT: Avinash Lingamneni/Rice University/CSEM

Abstract:
Researchers have unveiled an "inexact" computer chip that challenges the industry's dogmatic 50-year pursuit of accuracy. The design improves power and resource efficiency by allowing for occasional errors. Prototypes unveiled this week at the ACM International Conference on Computing Frontiers in Cagliari, Italy, are at least 15 times more efficient than today's technology.

Computing experts unveil superefficient 'inexact' chip: Rice University experts challenge computing dogma, win 'best paper' accolades

Houston, TX | Posted on May 17th, 2012

The research, which earned best-paper honors at the conference, was conducted by experts from Rice University in Houston, Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Switzerland's Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and the University of California, Berkeley.

"It is exciting to see this technology in a working chip that we can measure and validate for the first time," said project leader Krishna Palem, who also serves as director of the Rice-NTU Institute for Sustainable and Applied Infodynamics (ISAID). "Our work since 2003 showed that significant gains were possible, and I am delighted that these working chips have met and even exceeded our expectations."

ISAID is working in partnership with CSEM to create new technology that will allow next-generation inexact microchips to use a fraction of the electricity of today's microprocessors.

"The paper received the highest peer-review evaluation of all the Computing Frontiers submissions this year," said Paolo Faraboschi, the program co-chair of the ACM Computing Frontiers conference and a distinguished technologist at Hewlett Packard Laboratories. "Research on approximate computation matches the forward-looking charter of Computing Frontiers well, and this work opens the door to interesting energy-efficiency opportunities of using inexact hardware together with traditional processing elements."

The concept is deceptively simple: Slash power use by allowing processing components -- like hardware for adding and multiplying numbers -- to make a few mistakes. By cleverly managing the probability of errors and limiting which calculations produce errors, the designers have found they can simultaneously cut energy demands and dramatically boost performance.

One example of the inexact design approach is "pruning," or trimming away some of the rarely used portions of digital circuits on a microchip. Another innovation, "confined voltage scaling," trades some performance gains by taking advantage of improvements in processing speed to further cut power demands.

In their initial simulated tests in 2011, the researchers showed that pruning some sections of traditionally designed microchips could boost performance in three ways: The pruned chips were twice as fast, used half as much energy and were half the size. In the new study, the team delved deeper and implemented their ideas in the processing elements on a prototype silicon chip.

"In the latest tests, we showed that pruning could cut energy demands 3.5 times with chips that deviated from the correct value by an average of 0.25 percent," said study co-author Avinash Lingamneni, a Rice graduate student. "When we factored in size and speed gains, these chips were 7.5 times more efficient than regular chips. Chips that got wrong answers with a larger deviation of about 8 percent were up to 15 times more efficient."

Project co-investigator Christian Enz, who leads the CSEM arm of the collaboration, said, "Particular types of applications can tolerate quite a bit of error. For example, the human eye has a built-in mechanism for error correction. We used inexact adders to process images and found that relative errors up to 0.54 percent were almost indiscernible, and relative errors as high as 7.5 percent still produced discernible images."

Palem, the Ken and Audrey Kennedy Professor of Computing at Rice, who holds a joint appointment at NTU, said likely initial applications for the pruning technology will be in application-specific processors, such as special-purpose "embedded" microchips like those used in hearing aids, cameras and other electronic devices.

The inexact hardware is also a key component of ISAID's I-slate educational tablet. The low-cost I-slate is designed for Indian classrooms with no electricity and too few teachers. Officials in India's Mahabubnagar District announced plans in March to adopt 50,000 I-slates into middle and high school classrooms over the next three years.

The hardware and graphic content for the I-slate are being developed in tandem. Pruned chips are expected to cut power requirements in half and allow the I-slate to run on solar power from small panels similar to those used on handheld calculators. Palem said the first I-slates and prototype hearing aids to contain pruned chips are expected by 2013.

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its "unconventional wisdom." With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

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

Protein Building Blocks for Nanosystems: Scientists develop method for producing bio-based materials with new properties April 17th, 2015

Oxford Instruments commissions high field outsert magnet system for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory 32 Tesla magnet program April 17th, 2015

QD Vision Expands Product Line with Two-Millimeter Color LCD Display Optic: Color IQ™ Optic Enables Full-Color Gamut for Ultra-Thin Displays and All-in-One Computers April 16th, 2015

The National Science Foundation names engineering researcher Andrea Alú its Alan T. Waterman awardee for 2015: Alú is a pioneer in the field of metamaterials who has developed "cloaking" technology to make objects invisible to sensors April 16th, 2015

Possible Futures

A glass fiber that brings light to a standstill: By coupling photons to atoms, light in a glass fiber can be slowed down to the speed of an express train; for a short while it can even be brought to a complete stop April 9th, 2015

Nanotechnology in Medical Devices Market is expected to reach $8.5 Billion by 2019 March 25th, 2015

Nanotechnology Enabled Drug Delivery to Influence Future Diagnosis and Treatments of Diseases March 21st, 2015

Nanocomposites Market Growth, Industry Outlook To 2020 by Grand View Research, Inc. March 21st, 2015

Chip Technology

Nanotubes with two walls have singular qualities: Rice University lab calculates unique electronic qualities of double-walled carbon nanotubes April 16th, 2015

Graphenea embarks on a new era April 16th, 2015

Quantization of 'surface Dirac states' could lead to exotic applications April 15th, 2015

Study shows novel pattern of electrical charge movement through DNA April 14th, 2015

Announcements

Protein Building Blocks for Nanosystems: Scientists develop method for producing bio-based materials with new properties April 17th, 2015

Oxford Instruments commissions high field outsert magnet system for the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory 32 Tesla magnet program April 17th, 2015

Newly-Developed Nanocatalysts Increase Performance of Fuel Cells April 16th, 2015

Lanthanide-Organic Framework Nanothermometers Prepared by Spray-Drying April 16th, 2015

Research partnerships

Light in a spin: Researchers demonstrate angular accelerating light April 15th, 2015

Graphene pushes the speed limit of light-to-electricity conversion: Researchers from ICFO, MIT and UC Riverside have been able to develop a graphene-based photodetector capable of converting absorbed light into an electrical voltage at ultrafast timescales April 14th, 2015

Scientists create invisible objects without metamaterial cloaking April 14th, 2015

Solution-grown nanowires make the best lasers April 14th, 2015

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







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE