Microprocessors for the Mega-Core Data Center and Giga-Scale Biodegradable Future

Seminar | April 2 | 1-2 p.m. | Soda Hall, 430-438 Wozniak Lounge

 David Wentzlaff, Assistant Professor, Princeton University

 Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS)

Current data centers and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) clouds (e.g. Amazon EC2, MS Azure, Google GCE) operate at massive scale but use microprocessors designed for small servers and desktops. In this work, we rethink processor design and demonstrate that general purpose microprocessors must be architected differently in order to exploit the novel economic models of IaaS clouds and the scale of the modern data center. Beyond the growth in data centers, the emerging use of computation everywhere (e.g. IoT, disposable electronics) is causing a large and growing environmental impact by creating ever increasing amounts of discarded electronic waste (e-waste). We combat the e-waste challenge by proposing biodegradable microprocessors based on organic semiconductors. We are the first to explore optimizing computer architectures for biodegradable semiconductors.

In the first portion of this talk I will describe key architectural innovations that optimize computer architecture for data centers and IaaS clouds of the future. These innovations have been designed, fabricated, and characterized in the Princeton Piton Processor, a 25-core manycore built in IBM's 32nm process containing over 460 million transistors. Piton runs full stack Debian Linux and has been open sourced as the OpenPiton (http://www.openpiton.org) project, the world’s first open source, general-purpose, multithreaded, manycore processor.

The second portion of this talk investigates how computing system design needs to change when built out of biodegradable semiconductors. By using biodegradable organic semiconductors the e-waste impact of modern computing systems and sensors is removed thereby enabling the massive deployment of IoT systems in our natural environment (e.g. per-crop sensors, per-tree sensors). We have developed an in-house flow to build high-yield biodegradable organic semiconductor designs and have found that the intuition for building processors in silicon does not carry over to organic semiconductors. We fabricate our biodegradable organic semiconductor designs in the cleanrooms at Princeton, fabricating new chips weekly to drive our research forward.

David Wentzlaff (PhD MIT) is an Assistant Professor at Princeton University in the Electrical Engineering Department. Before joining Princeton, he was Lead Architect and Founder of Tilera Corporation, a multicore chip manufacturer whose technology now forms the key technology inside Mellanox datacenter processing and networking chips. In addition to designing several generations of manycore chips, David founded the MIT Factored Operating System (fos) project, which focused on designing scalable operating systems for thousand core multicores and cloud computers. His work has been awarded the NSF CAREER award, the DARPA Young Faculty Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Prize, and the Princeton E. Lawrence Keyes Faculty Advancement Award. David teaches the world's first Massively Open Online Course (MOOC) in Computer Architecture offered through Coursera. David's recent accomplishments include: 1) reformulating manycore microprocessors for data center and cloud computing environments; 2) the development of biodegradable computers to reduce computing's environmental impact and 3) generating the world's first open source IaaS datacenter chip design.