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Physically Aware Computer Architecture

Physically Aware Computer Architecture<br/>Abstract<br/><br/>Technology scaling and low-level physical effects are straining the clean interfaces between abstraction levels necessary to make the design process manageable. This tension will increase as new physical phenomena are manifested in nanotechnology-based circuits. At the same time, microarchitecture is becoming increasingly important in managing the way physical phenomena impact key figures of merit such as performance, energy efficiency, cost, and expected lifetime. This proposal considers the interaction between the computer architecture domain and physical domain aspects such as thermal effects, aging processes, floorplanning, interconnect, process variations, and power-supply variation. We propose to model these phenomena using "compact" models. We will develop models for key physical phenomena and explore architecture techniques for managing their impact.<br/><br/>Unless microarchitecture can account for low-level physical phenomena like process, voltage, and temperature variability, increasing design margins will impose high and possibly prohibitive costs that drastically limit design possibilities. The discovery of similarities in the modeling and design approaches for such phenomena offers a solution. In terms of broader impact, the project will develop a flexible modeling infrastructure that will enable the architecture and computer systems design community to perform physically-aware design and analysis and compensate for these technology trends. Further impact will arise from educating a generation of students to consider low-level physical phenomena in higher-level abstract design domains.

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