Home Academic information USC Viterbi-led team wins US NSF “Expeditions in Computing” award for advancing...

USC Viterbi-led team wins US NSF “Expeditions in Computing” award for advancing superconducting electronics design – USC Viterbi


The instrumental role of the USC-led DISCoVER Expedition Award in developing more efficient computing solutions (PHOTO CREDIT: USC Viterbi)

IT is the basis for solving a wide range of societal challenges: from automation to climate change. But the IT industry stands at a crossroads with ever-increasing scaling challenges and high power demands. The continued growth of computing requires transformational technologies that can reduce energy consumption and enable breakthrough discoveries for the future. It is with this challenge in mind that the Expeditions in Computing program of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded $15 million to the DISCOVER Expedition USC-led team, with a consortium of universities including Auburn University, Cornell University, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, University of Rochester, and Yokohama National University (the university partner international). This is one of only two national expedition awards announced this year.

“Both 2022 awards support efforts that envision future materials for computing systems in the post-Moore Law era,” said Margaret Martonosi, NSF Deputy Director for Computing and Information Science. and engineering.

DISCoVER (Design & Integration of Superconductive Computation for Ventures Beyond Exascale Realization) Expedition Aims to Play a Key Role in Ensuring U.S. Preeminence as a Global Technology Leader and Guiding Future Investments in Hardware and Chip Manufacturing . To enable this leadership, the DISCoVER team will work to transform the way modern IT is run using superconductor electronics to design durable, large-scale, high-performance “exascale” computing fabrics.

Professor Massoud Pedram of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ming Hsieh leads the team (PHOTO CREDIT: USC Viterbi)

Professor Massoud Pedram of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering Ming Hsieh leads the team (PHOTO CREDIT: USC Viterbi)

The DISCoVER team will focus on the development of comprehensive hardware and software solutions enabling the design, optimization and demonstration of novel superconducting devices, single-flow quantum logic circuits and ultra-high performance, ultra-high efficiency superconducting systems. energy, approaching the theoretical limit of energy efficiency. The team will focus on chips featuring niobium-based superconducting ‘Josephson junctions’, which operate at a very cold temperature of 4.2 Kelvin and store logical values ​​(0 and 1) by creating or suppressing persistent currents. in superconducting loops. These loops have zero resistance and therefore do not lose energy. This approach is a radical departure from current semiconductor design practices, which use silicon-based CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) transistors to process logic values.

According to the team, this kind of computing power is imperative for solving complex computational problems that deal with large-scale datasets, such as those needed for drug development (which quickly show viability and impact). , running climate change models, or even issues like supply chain.

The interdisciplinary team will be led by Massoud Pedram, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at USC Viterbi Ming Hsieh, whose research expertise is in green computing, low-power electronics, and post-CMOS technologies. . Specifically, the USC technical team, which includes Timothy Pinkston, USC Viterbi associate dean for faculty affairs and professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Murali Annavaram, professor of electrical and computer engineering and computer science. , will focus on the development of superconducting circuits and architectures that target a multitude of applications, including general purpose processors, neural network accelerators, Ising machines as hardware solvers of combinatorial optimization problems and classical control for quantum computers.

The research effort undertaken by partner universities will work in tandem with USC’s work and will focus on new materials and devices, on-chip memory design, and interfaces with room-temperature electronics to enable design and the prototyping of a superconducting system of cryogenic computing cores (SuperSoCC). SuperSoCC is expected to be able to deliver at least 100 times the power efficiency of CMOS while delivering performance comparable to state-of-the-art semiconductor-based multi-core processing chips. In addition, SuperSoCC can also offer at least 10 times improvement in processing speed at the same level of power consumption as CMOS-based computing. These performance gains are achievable despite the energy cost of cryogenic cooling required.

Through this multifaceted research program, the DISCoVER expedition will methodically reduce the technological barriers to the adoption of superconducting electronics, namely physical scaling, integration complexity, support tools and interfacing with electronics at room temperature.

Discussing the broad scope of this research, Professor Pedram said:As the fundamental scaling limits of CMOS draw near, now is the time for an expedition to explore emerging disruptive computing technologies. The DISCoVER expedition will explore new superconducting electronics as a viable post-CMOS computing technology. Superconducting electronics can deliver ultra-high performance and power efficiency at scale.

The larger goal of the DISCoVER team is to empower a new generation of diverse engineers and entrepreneurs who will bring superconducting devices and circuits to the mainstream of high performance computing. To accomplish this, the team will develop a new curriculum for college students and K-12 students, and conduct significant outreach efforts to further broaden participation in computing.

“This DISCoVER expedition will pave the way for major innovations in embedded electronics, sustainable exascale computing and machine learning acceleration,” said Pedram.

Other USC professors involved in this expedition include Professor Yingying Fan of USC Marshall School of Business and Professor Julia Albright of USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences, who will investigate environmental impacts , commercial and socio-economic aspects of superconducting electronics in general and the research of the DISCOVER expedition in particular.

Posted on April 22, 2022

Last updated on April 22, 2022