UF's Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing awarded prize for technology innovation
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The National Science Foundation’s Center for High-Performance Reconfigurable Computing, or CHREC, headquartered at the University of Florida, was recently awarded the 2012 Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize for Technology Innovation for its research and development of Novo-G, the world’s most powerful reconfigurable supercomputer.
“It’s the prototype for a whole new series of adaptive computing machines that industry leaders can build and develop for their own use,” said Alan George, director of CHREC and professor of electrical and computer engineering at UF.
Awarded annually since 2005, the Schwarzkopf Prize recognizes excellence in National Science Foundation, or NSF, cooperative research centers such as CHREC charged with the mission of fostering collaborative research between industry and universities. Novo-G, the innovation that earned CHREC the prize for 2012, is much faster and more efficient than conventional supercomputers many times its size and cost, and uses far less energy.
“When you’re working with a conventional supercomputer, you have to write each application so that it plays to the fixed nature of the machine’s processing architecture,” George said. “Novo-G turns that around; the machine adapts to handle the problem.”
When programmers write an application for Novo-G, they insert code that tells the machine’s processors how best to arrange themselves to handle most efficiently the problem being proposed. And that leads to big savings in power, money, and time, over what a conventional computer can do, he said.
CHREC partners with a variety of companies like Monsanto, Honeywell, National Instruments, and Intel to help them adapt new technology for their own needs.
“For example, Monsanto has plans to build their own Novo-G type of machine in the future when they are ready to use it for production business processes,” said Herman Lam, associate director of CHREC and associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at UF. “For now, we run experiments for them using their data as part of our ongoing research.”
Novo-G first came online in the summer of 2009 and has doubled its reconfigurable processing capacity annually since that time. The featured devices in Novo-G are Field-Programmable Gate Arrays, or FPGAs, which enable the user to customize and configure the hardware.
The Alexander Schwarzkopf Prize isn’t just about CHREC’s technological achievements with Novo-G, George said. The award also recognizes its success in pushing the relationship between academic research and industry as an NSF center. CHREC is one of about 50 such centers in the U.S.
“This award says that CHREC is exemplary as a national research center making breakthroughs for industry, government, and society at large,” Lam said. “One of the best.”
Lam accepted the award on behalf of CHREC at a national event in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.
- Donna Hesterman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 352-846-2573