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Faculty Candidate Seminar

Manycore Vector-Thread Architectures

Christopher F. BattenPhD CandidateMIT
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Ph.D. Candidate, Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Graduate Exchange Scholar, Parallel Computing Laboratory, UC-Berkeley.

Serious technology issues are breaking down the traditional abstractions
in computer engineering. Power and energy consumption are now
first-order design constraints and the road map for standard CMOS
technology has never been more challenging. In response to these
technology issues, computer architects are turning to multicore and
manycore processors where tens to hundreds of cores are integrated on a
single chip. However, this breaks down the traditional sequential
execution abstraction forcing software programmers to parallelize their
applications. This talk will introduce a new architectural approach
called vector-threading (VT) which is a first step to addressing these
challenges. Vector-threading combines the energy-efficiency and simple
programming model of vector execution with the flexibility of
multithreaded execution.

This talk will also describe two implementations of vector-threading.
The Scale VT Processor is a prototype for embedded applications
implemented in a TSMC 0.18um process. Scale includes a RISC control
processor and a four-lane vector-thread unit that can execute 16
operations per cycle and supports up to 128 active threads. The 16 mm^2
chip runs at 260 MHz while consuming 0.4-1.1 W across a range of
kernels. We have leveraged our insights from our first implementation of
vector-threading to begin developing the Maven VT Processor. A Maven
chip would include tens to hundreds of simple control processors each
with its own single-lane vector-thread unit (VTU). A Maven single-lane
VTU is potentially easier to implement and more efficient than a Scale
multiple-lane VTU. Maven lanes can be coupled together with a
combination of low-level software running on the control processor and
fast hardware barriers.
Christopher Batten is a Ph.D. candidate in the Electrical
Engineering and Computer Science Department at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. He is currently finishing his thesis research
as a visiting student at the University of California, Berkeley in the
new Parallel Computing Laboratory. He holds a B.S. in Electrical
Engineering from the University of Virginia and an M.Phil. in
Engineering from the University of Cambridge, UK where he studied as a
Winston Churchill Scholar. His research interests include
energy-efficient parallel computer architecture and leveraging emerging
technologies such as silicon photonics to benefit future parallel
applications.

Sponsored by

EECS - CSE Division