Young Researchers Strive to Improve Energy Efficiency in Computers


Dr. Pierre-Emmanuel Gaillardon

Two up-and-coming engineers – one from Technion – Israel Institute of Technology and the other from the University of Utah – have been honored with BSF’s Pazy Memorial Award for their efforts to make computers more energy-efficient.

Shahar Kvatinsky, an engineer, researcher and assistant professor at Technion, and Pierre-Emmanuel Gaillardon, assistant professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department at the University of Utah, were cited for their project focusing on high performance parallel processing in computers. They have already received a BSF grant. This Award, given to researchers in mathematics or computer sciences, includes additional resources that allow them to develop their project.

“It is a profound honor to see our research project awarded this way,” Kvatinsky said. “It means a great deal to us, knowing that BSF believes in us and what we are trying to accomplish.”

The researchers are focusing on new types of non-volatile memories, which is a type of computer memory capable of holding saved data even when the power is turned off. For example, a digital camera can use non-volatile memory in its memory chip, and camera users don’t have to worry about losing saved photos when the device is turned off.

Dr. Shahar Kvatinsky

Kvatinsky and Gaillardon are exploring emerging non-volatile memories to see if they can create computing architectures designed to operate in a wide voltage range, from complete turn-off to nominal voltage. This can tremendously reduce a computer’s power trace.

“As more electronic devices are connected through the Internet, there’s an increasing demand for more energy efficiency,” Gaillardon said.

The less voltage a computer uses, the more voltage is available to effectively power additional electronics. That means using processors that can operate in low voltages and harvest their energy from various sources (such as solar energy.)

Gaillardon and Kvatinsky’s work focuses on computer memory systems that can operate in a wide range of voltages.

Kvatinsky and Gaillardon are considering new computer memory structures, as well as emerging software, to find new types of non-volatile memories.

“The grant that comes with this award will help us to go deeper in investigating the benefits of emerging memory technologies,” Kvatinsky said.

The Pazy Memorial Award honors the memory of Professor Amnon Pazy, well-known Israeli mathematician who served continuously on the BSF Board of Governors from 1997 until his death in August 2006. During this period, he was twice elected chairman of the board.