Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Dissertation paves the way for tomorrow’s supercomputers

Constructing supercomputers with shared memory and high performance either takes a great deal of time and money or results in not all programs functioning. This has long been a problem in the computer industry. In his dissertation Håkan Zeffer presents an entirely new solution that has already caught the eye of the industry. The dissertation will be publicly defended at Uppsala University in Sweden on October 13.

Many of today’s server computers contain several processors (the ‘brain’ of the computer) and support for so-called shared memory. Shared memory makes these multiprocessors simple for programmers to use, but it entails great complexity in the actual design of the computer. To achieve speed, a computer’s processor and memory are complemented by smaller ‘cache’ memories that contain the most important computer material. It’s something like having your own little black book to complement the phone book.

With shared memory and several processes, however, the problem arises that every processor’s cache memory must be designed to ‘talk with’ the others so that they will have the same information when a number in the phone book is changed, for instance. Supercomputers with shared memory are built today largely with specially constructed hardware. The great disadvantages of this are long construction times and high prices. Another way to construct supercomputers is to build the shared memory with a layer of software. This entails simpler and cheaper hardware, but also relatively low capacity and poor binary compatibility; in other words, it has not been possible to run all programs with this solution. Therefore, this approach has been considered unworkable since the 1990s.

Håkan Zeffer is now introducing something halfway between these two approaches and a solution to a more than 20-year-old problem in the computer industry. The idea is that the need for ‘coherence’ across memories is detected in the hardware, whereas the actual coordination is executed in the software. The hardware can therefore be not only simple but also small, which makes it possible to use it in many different types of processors. This system is both cheaper and more flexible. Since parts of the system are based on software, the programs and the computer itself can be optimized.

“This is a new way to build inexpensive supercomputers. The complexity is merely a fraction of that of the tradition solution, and the capacity is not only comparable with tradition systems but often better,” says Håkan Zeffer.

The idea has been patented, and the industry has expressed an interest in the new approach.

Anneli Waara | alfa
Further information:

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>