Computer memory storage can add costly energy fees to a corporation's bottom line. It is also responsible for fast battery drain in mobile devices.
In the labs at Carnegie Mellon University, Onur Mutlu is developing energy-efficient solutions.
Director of the SAFARI research group at CMU, Mutlu and his researchers are also developing microprocessors that are resilient to potential cybersecurity attacks by designing them to be much more robust and predictable.
"One unimportant program can hog a computer today and deny service to programs that are much more important to the user. Imagine a program; say a virus checker or some program you downloaded just for fun, slowing everything else on your mobile phone while draining your battery very fast. This would be very discomforting, yet it happens," said Mutlu, an assistant professor in CMU's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE).
"We're designing systems that can withstand such cyber-attacks, malicious or unintentional, by isolating the attacker and ensuring all important programs and the main system keeps running as fast as if the attacker did not exist, and preventing unnecessary battery drain," he added.
Mutlu has received the prestigious 2011 Young Computer Architecture Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society's Technical Committee on Computer Architecture.
This is the first year for the award, which recognizes outstanding research and educational contributions in the field of computer architecture by an individual who has received his Ph.D. within six years of his nomination.
"This is a great honor for me as I, along with my students and collaborators, research new future computer systems that are fundamentally more capable, efficient, resilient and economical," he said.
"Many difficult problems in science, medicine, and technology require a large amount of computational power, which cannot be supplied efficiently by today's computers. If we are to continue breakthroughs in these areas and enable many new applications we have not yet conceived of, then we should continue improving the efficiency, performance, and robustness of computing platforms, which is what my group is researching," he explained.
Ed Schlesinger, Schramm Professor and head of Carnegie Mellon's top-ranked ECE Department said, "We are extremely pleased with this inaugural recognition for such an innovative and talented researcher as Professor Mutlu. He is pioneering development of the systems that will ensure that computers will advance to new levels of performance even as their cost is reduced."
Mutlu's research has received several other prestigious recognitions in the past year, including the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
Three of his papers were selected for the IEEE Micro issue on "Top Picks from Computer Architecture Conferences of the Year," which chooses the 10–12 most novel and relevant computer architecture works each year among hundreds of published papers in the field.
Mutlu received his bachelor's degrees in computer engineering and psychology in 2000 from the University of Michigan, and a master's degree in 2002 and a Ph.D. in 2006 in computer engineering, both from the University of Texas at Austin. Before coming to Carnegie Mellon, Mutlu worked at Microsoft Research and spent summers at Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.