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Multimillion pound project to develop next generation computing systems

14 May 2013

A national collaboration of electronic engineers and computer scientists is aiming to develop the next generation of energy-efficient computing systems.

PRiME: Power-efficient, Reliable, Many-core Embedded systems, brings together four world-leading research groups from the universities of Southampton, Manchester and Newcastle and Imperial College London. The five-year £5.6m Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)-funded project will undertake creative research into the design and implementation of energy-efficient and dependable embedded systems with many-core processors.

Many-core processing – computer systems with 100s of microprocessors – has applications in embedded, mobile, general-purpose and high-performance computing, and is widely recognised as the future of computing.

Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, from the University of Southampton and Director of PRiME, said: “Electronics and software have a tremendous impact on life, from the internet to consumer electronics, healthcare and transportation. Embedded systems, many of which will be low-power mobile devices, will be one of the most powerful tools in tackling global societal challenges.

“However, while many-core processing is viewed as a way to improve the performance of computing systems, the energy consumption and reliability of these systems with 100s or 1000s of cores has yet to be fully understood.

“Our vision is to enable the sustainability of many-core systems by preventing the uncontrolled increase in energy consumption and unreliability through a step-change in design methods and cross–layer system optimisation.”

A key component of PRiME is the close connection and interplay between world-leading research and the involvement of industry to identify and translate technology outcomes from this programme to commercial exploitation quickly and efficiently.

Professor Steve Furber, from Manchester’s School of Computer Science, said: "Here at Manchester we have spent the last seven years building SpiNNaker, a system with a million mobile phone processors aimed at brain-modelling applications. SpiNNaker brings a ready-made experimental many-core platform to the PRiME partnership, within which we hope to develop enhanced energy- and reliability-management techniques for SpiNNaker, as well as feeding those ideas back into broader application domains with our PRiME academic and industry collaborators."

The UK electronics industry is worth £23 billion a year and is the fifth largest in the world. Within embedded systems, the UK is the world-leader thanks to the presence of ARM Ltd and Imagination, both collaborators on this proposal, as well as software and embedded system companies (e.g. Microsoft Research, Freescale and Altera). This research is essential in enabling industrial collaborators to compete in the future many-core market.

Professor Al-Hashimi addd: “Architectures, software methods and tools, and highly-skilled scientists and engineers that will enable the design of future high-performance many-core embedded systems will be a huge part of future value and wealth creation. To maximise impact, suitable industrial and knowledge-transfer collaborators have been carefully identified that are best placed to influence and exploit the research.”

PRiME will also develop the next generation of researchers and leaders by exposing investigators, research fellows and PhD students to a highly stimulating environment, in which research is expected to be both world-leading in terms of academic quality and also have industrial relevance. Research results will be disseminated through high impact publications, workshops, and invited talks at major international conferences.

Ends

Notes for editors

The PRiME team has a proven record of academic excellence, having produced more than 1,000 publications, successfully graduated more than 90 PhD students, and held EPSRC research grants as PIs worth £17 million over the last three years (presently £11 million). The investigators' work continues to inform the latest developments in their respective fields.

The team consists of: Professor Bashir Al-Hashimi, Professor Michael Butler, Dr Geoff Merrett (University of Southampton); Dr George Constantinides and Professor Peter Cheung (Imperial); Professor Steve Furber and Dr James Garside (The University of Manchester); Professor Alex Yakovlev and Professor Alexander Romanovsky (University of Newcastle).

For further details about PRiME visit: www.prime-project.org

Details of the EPSRC grant are available at: http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewGrant.aspx?GrantRef=EP/K034448/1

For more information contact:

Aeron Haworth
Media Relations
Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences
The University of Manchester

Tel: 0161 275 8387
Mob: 07717 881563
Email: aeron.haworth@manchester.ac.uk