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Constructive Approach to Computer Architecture

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A radical new idea for teaching computer architecture is to largely replace descriptions of architectures by executable, i.e., simulatable and synthesizable, descriptions. An architectural description that is not executable would be as irrelevant as a computer program that is never run. For different reasons neither software languages like C, C++ or Java, nor RTL languages like Verilog or VHDL are adequate for pliable architectural descriptions. Consequently, learning to read and write architectural descriptions in an appropriate language has to be an integral part of the new approach. Executable descriptions would provide solid foundations to study area/performance/power trade-offs using more advanced tools on one hand and to develop proper testing and verification strategies on the other.

We will describe the new subject that Professors Joel Emer, Li-Shiuan Peh and I are teaching along these lines at MIT this term.

Biography: Arvind is the Johnson Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT . In the late eighties Arvind’s group, in collaboration with Motorola, built the Monsoon dataflow machines and its associated software. In 2000, Arvind started Sandburst which was sold to Broadcom in 2006. In 2003, Arvind co-founded Bluespec Inc., an EDA company to produce a set of tools for high-level synthesis. In 2001, Dr. R. S. Nikhil and Arvind published the book “Implicit parallel programming in pH”. Arvind’s current research focus is on enabling rapid development of embedded systems. Arvind is a Fellow of IEEE and ACM , and a member of the National Academy of Engineering.

This talk is part of the Computer Laboratory Computer Architecture Group Meeting series.

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