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Energy-modulated computing

Alex Yakovlev ( Newcastle University )

For years people have been designing electronic and computing systems focusing on improving performance but only "keeping power and energy consumption in mind". This is a way to design energy-aware or power-efficient systems where energy is considered as a resource whose utilization must be optimized in the realm of performance constraints.

Increasingly, energy and power turn from optimization criteria into constraints, sometimes as critical as, for example, reliability and timing. Furthermore, quanta of energy or specific levels of power can shape the system's action. In other words, the system's behaviour, i.e. the way how computation and communication is carried out, can be determined or modulated by the flow of energy into the system. This view becomes dominant when energy is harvested from the environment. This view is also analogous to what happens in biological systems.

In this talk, we attempt to pave the way to a systematic approach to designing computing systems that are energy-modulated. To this end, several design examples are considered where power comes from energy harvesting sources with limited power density and unstable levels of power. Our design examples include voltage sensors based on self-timed logic and speed-independent SRAM operating in the dynamic range of Vdd 0.2-1V. Overall, this work advocates the vision of designing systems in which a certain quality of service is delivered in return for a certain amount of energy.

Speaker bio

Alexandre (Alex) Yakovlev was born in 1956 in Russia. He received D.Sc. from Newcastle University in 2006, and M.Sc. and Ph.D. from St. Petersburg Electrical Engineering Institute in 1979 and 1982 respectively, where he worked in the area of asynchronous and concurrent systems since 1980, and in the period between 1982 and 1990 held positions of assistant and associate professor at the Computing Science department. Since 1991 he has been at the Newcastle University, where he worked as a lecturer, reader and professor at the Computing Science department until 2002, and is now heading the Microelectronic Systems Design research group ( at the School of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering. His current interests and publications are in the field of modeling and design of asynchronous, concurrent, real-time and dependable systems on a chip. He has published four monographs and more than 250 papers in academic journals and conferences, has managed over 25 research contracts. He has chaired program committees of several international conferences, including the IEEE Int. Symposium on Asynchronous Circuits and Systems (ASYNC), Petri nets (ICATPN), Applications of Concurrency to Systems Design (ACSD), and is currently a chairman of the Steering committee of the Conference on Application of Concurrency to System Design. He is a Senior Member of the IEEE and Member of IET. In April 2008 he was General Chair of the 14th ASYNC Symposium and 2nd Int. Symposium on Networks on Chip, and Tutorial Chair at Design Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) in 2009. He was recently an invited speaker at DDECS 2010, KTN event on Power Management in 2010 and DATE 2011, where he spoke on “Energy-Modulated Computing”. He was a visiting professor at Technical University of Vienna in May-June 2011. He was on advisory board of Elastix Corp in 2007-2011. From September 2011 he is a Dream Fellow of EPSRC, UK, to investigate different aspects of energy-modulated computing.

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