Computer Science Chair Earns International Recognition for Advancing Computer Processor Design
Kevin Skadron, Harry Douglas Forsyth Professor and chair of Computer Science at the University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science, has been named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), a prestigious international organization. Skadron is one of 42 computer scientists in the world to receive the designation this year.
“Whether they work in leading universities, corporations, or research laboratories, these newly minted ACM Fellows are responsible for the breakthroughs and industrial innovations that are transforming society at every level,” ACM President Alexander L. Wolf said in a release from the organization.
“This is really a recognition of the work of the many students and faculty colleagues who have collaborated with me. This recognition would not have been possible without that team effort,” Skadron said.
Skadron and colleagues from the departments of Computer Science and Electrical & Computer Engineering are renowned for their work addressing complex technological barriers in the race to build ever-smaller, faster, and smarter computer processors – barriers that have raised doubts about scientists’ ability to continue advancing processors at the dizzying rates of the last 40 years. UVA research in the area of temperature-aware processor design has addressed the heat generated by the increasing number of transistors being added to processors.
“It’s very important to design processors with cooling in mind,” Skadron said. “As transistors become vanishingly small, they are vulnerable to failures, and high temperatures dramatically accelerate that.”
To support their research on processor design, Skadron and his colleague Mircea Stan, a professor in the Charles L. Brown Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, developed an open-source tool called HotSpot that simulates heat transport within a microprocessor so researchers can efficiently and effectively test microprocessor designs that improve heat transport and control aging in transistors and wires. HotSpot is now widely used in the processor design community.
Skadron’s research group is also well known for its work on developing benchmark programs that place stress on different aspects of a processor to help researchers ensure that their innovations will benefit a wide range of software behaviors. The open-source Rodinia benchmark suite developed by his group is widely used in academia and industry.
“It’s a really exciting time to work in this area,” Skadron said, “because a lot of long-held processor design practices are now up in the air. Work in this field is going to be very important to ensuring that processor capabilities continue to grow at the rate upon which the digital economy has come to depend.”
Most recently, in partnership with Micron Technology Inc., Skadron and Stan in 2013 founded the UVA Center for Automata Computing, focused on high-speed, comprehensive search, pattern-matching and analysis of complex, unstructured data streams, otherwise known as “Big Data.”
Skadron also is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
The Association for Computing Machinery will recognize Skadron and the other fellows in June 2016.