Computational Sprinting Pushes Smartphones Till They’re Tired

 University of Michigan News Service (02/28/12) Steve Crang

 Researchers at Michigan and Pennsylvania universities are developing computational sprinting technology, which is designed to push mobile chips beyond their sustainable operating limits.  The researchers say computational sprinting could give users dramatic, brief bursts of computing capability to improve current applications and make new ones possible.  “We’re proposing a computer system that can perform a giant surge of computation, but then gets tired and has time to rest,” says Michigan professor Thomas Wenisch.  The researchers found that they could design a chip to run at 16 times the sustainable rate for half a second.  “What our research indicates is that it’s OK for the silicon to be mostly dark, if you can use it all for short bursts of intense computation,” says Pennsylvania professor Milo Martin.  Under the computational sprinting scheme, up to 15 additional cores would activate to work in parallel alongside the chip’s main core for up to one second, which could speed up the device’s response time tenfold.  “If app designers can now get 10 times as much computing done in one burst, that frees their hands to pursue ideas they would have just discarded today,” Wenisch says.

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