EPSRC logo

Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R016690/1
Title: Heterogeneous Thinking
Principal Investigator: O'Boyle, Professor M
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
ARM Ltd Codeplay Software Ltd INRIA Paris - Rocquencourt
Microsoft Northeastern University University of Texas at Austin
Department: Sch of Informatics
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 July 2018 Ends: 30 June 2024 Value (£): 1,074,832
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Fundamentals of Computing New & Emerging Comp. Paradigms
Parallel Computing
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
28 Feb 2018 EPSRC DE and ICT Fellowship Interviews 28 February and 1 March 2018 Announced
11 Jan 2018 EPSRC ICT Prioritisation Panel Jan 2018 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
In 1965 Gordon Moore observed that the number of components on a computer chip doubles every 18 months. For almost 50 years we have enjoyed this exponentially increasing computer power. This has transformed society, heralding today's computer-age.

This growth is based on a fundamental contract between hardware and software that until recently has rarely been questioned. The contract is: hardware may change radically "under the hood", but the code you ran on yesterday's machine will run just the same on tomorrow's - but even faster. Hardware may change, but it looks the same to software, always speaking the same language. This common, consistent language allows the decoupling of software development from hardware development. It has allowed programmers to invest significant effort in software development, secure in the knowledge that it will have decades of use. Alarmingly, this contract will begin to fall apart,

putting in jeopardy the massive investment in software.

The reason for the breakdown is due to the end of Moore's Law. Technology can no longer be relied upon to scale smaller and provide performance; the end of Moore's Law is beginning to force new approaches to computer design. The cost of maintaining the common consistent language contract is enormous. If we break the contract and develop specialised hardware, there is potentially a 10,000 x massive performance gain available. For this reason, it is clear that

in future, hardware will be increasingly specialised and heterogeneous. Currently, however, there is no clear way of programming and using such hardware.

As it stands, either hardware evolution will stall as software cannot fit or software will be unable to exploit hardware innovation. Such a crisis requires a fundamental re-think of how we design, program and use heterogeneous systems.

What we need is an approach that liberates hardware from the uniform language contract and efficiently connects existing and future software to the emerging heterogeneous landscape.

This project proposes a way of doing this by re-thinking how we connect software and hardware by a more flexible language interface which can change from one processor to the next. It allows existing software to use future hardware and allows hardware innovation to connect to new and emerging applications areas such robotics, augmented reality and deep learning. If successful, it will usher in an era of change in systems design where, rather than deny and fear the end of

Moore's law, we embrace and exploit it.
Key Findings
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Potential use in non-academic contexts
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Description This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Date Materialised
Sectors submitted by the Researcher
This information can now be found on Gateway to Research (GtR) http://gtr.rcuk.ac.uk
Project URL:  
Further Information:  
Organisation Website: http://www.ed.ac.uk