Computing Solutions Group: Projects

The Computing Solutions Group is focused on research breakthroughs in the following areas:

Energy-proportional Computation: While data servers are designed to operate most efficiently at peak demand, they usually operate at only 30-50% capacity. The Computing Solutions Group has developed a family of “barely-alive” computing states that produce up to 38% energy savings by selectively shutting down unnecessary components and while retaining access to critical data.

Also in this area, Institute researchers are optimizing computer components such as hard drives, RAM, and microchips for speed and efficiency. One promising energy-proportional echnology is memristors, a hybrid memory and processing technology, which could eventually perform memory, storage and even computation in a single piece of hardware. By potentially replacing disk drives, memristors could increase the energy efficiency of storage by more than 1000x.

Cloud Computing: Virtualization, the technology responsible for the rise of “cloud” computing has the potential to save 60-70% of the energy dedicated to data servers. To hasten this shift, Institute faculty have developed open-source cloud infrastructure and application platforms for researching and improving the capabilities of cloud-based networks.

Wireless Networks:  Our faculty have also pioneered low-cost and energy-efficient wireless networks in developing countries that automatically adjust to service disruptions. The Institute is also researching tools to create on-the-fly internet hotspots, built by tethering together the capability of multiple mobile phones while maximizing battery life.

Left: Thermal plot of a processor chip without cooling technology. Right: Thermal plot of a
processor chip with cooling technology. 

Cooling Technologies:  Waste heat is a major byproduct of today’s powerful microprocessors. Effective thermal management is essential to ensure safe operation and maximize the lifespan of computer chips. UC Santa Barbara is developing a thermal management device based on a nanoscale titanium material, which offers fast, effective heat transfer and reduces the demand for server room cooling. Another alternative is a superlattice material which can be layered on chips to cool specific hot spots. Extensive work has been done on this material in the Institute's Electronics and Photonics Solutions Group. The Computing Solutions Group is able to leverage this work where superlattices are used to cool optical technologies which enables dramatic gains in communication speed and efficiency.

Click here to learn more about UC Santa Barbara's efforts to improve the energy efficiency of data centers and computing.The Institute’s Computing Solutions Group is playing a leading role in stimulating a revolution in data efficiency to match the one in data creation and delivery. Combined, these advancements have the potential to build the energy-proportional, virtual and ultra-efficient data center and, in the process, make the next leap in Internet speed and power possible.

Highlights of Recent Research:

Advances in Computing Technology: Memristors and Neural Applications

Developing low-cost Cellular Network Architecture for Remote Areas

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