For decades, Moore’s law ensured transistors per microchip doubled every one to two years, making computers fast and innovation faster. But it’s now the end of an era, and how we keep computers at pace with progress is a fundamental question of the future of computing. Georgia Tech’s newest research center, the Center for Research Into Novel Computing Hierarchies (CRNCH), is tackling this problem head-on.
CRNCH hosted an all-day summit on the future of computing on Nov. 3, 2017. “We are unique in the nation as the first multidisciplinary center focused on post-Moore computing,” said Tom Conte, the co-director of the research center and a professor joint appointed in the Schools of Computer Science (SCS) and Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).
The center has more than 30 dedicated faculty members from the College of Computing, the College of Engineering, the College of Sciences, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute. Together, they address the post-Moore world by researching quantum computing, neuromorphic computing, design science, approximate computing, and more. CRNCH’s goal is matchmaking between researchers and funding, students and internships, companies and labs to test their product.
“CRNCH is really bringing people together,” said Lew Lefton, assistant vice president for research cyberinfrastructure in the office of the Executive Vice President for Research. “Working outside silos where domains collide is where really interesting science is happening.”
Throughout the day, leaders in computing discussed the problems facing the industry and how to solve them. As keynote speaker Peter Kogge, the McCourtney Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Notre Dame said, “We’re hitting a third wall and solving that wall is going to require architectural changes.”
Kogge was followed by talks from a wide range of experts, including:
- John Shalf, department head for computer science at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory;
- Moinuddin Qureshi, an associate professor in ECE;
- Jim Ang, manager of the Exascale Computing Program at Sandia National Laboratories;
- and Brian Konigsburg, chief architect at Northrop Grumman’s superconducting computer program.
The College also had strong support from its faculty at the CRNCH summit. SCS Professor and CRNCH Co-Director Vivek Sarkar spoke on software challenges in heterogeneous computing, noting, “Essentially what happens in the post-Moore era is we need to innovate more.”
The School of Computational Science and Engineering’s presence at the CRNCH Summit included presentations by school chair David Bader, Professor and Co-Executive Director of the Institute for Data Engineering and Science Srinivas Aluru, and Senior Research Scientist Jason Riedy.
A focus of the day was the Rogues Gallery, a new project initiated by CRNCH that focuses on next-generation hardware and uncommon technologies.
“What happens when novel prototypes hit reality?” Riedy said. “We want to not focus on just static data; we want to focus on when these sets change. This is one of the founding ideas behind the creation of the Rogues Gallery.”
Riedy is leader on the grant to purchase the first hardware to be featured gallery, the Emu Chick. The eight-node emu computer was installed the day before the summit after arriving last month. Shortly after the Emu Chick was connected, CRNCH researchers had several large applications running on it.
The Rogues Gallery may be just one of CRNCH’s many innovations, but it’s a fitting symbol for the center.
“A rogue is someone who goes out on their own,” Conte said. “The only path forward is the crazy.”