UIUC faculty to lead or help lead four new JUMP 2.0 multi-university centers


Last year, the Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) and DARPA announced the Joint University Microelectronics Program 2.0 (JUMP 2.0)—a new long-term program for university research collaboration with a consortium of semiconductor and defense companies. The JUMP 2.0 program was designed to support seven multi-university research centers, each focused on one of seven research themes of critical importance to the semiconductor sector.

The centers that won the JUMP 2.0 funding have now been announced, and UIUC features prominently on the list: of the seven, one is being led by a UIUC professor and includes two UIUC co-PIs; another is being co-directed by a UIUC professor; and two others have a UIUC professor serving as a research theme leader. The UIUC-led ACE Center for Evolvable Computing, which won in the JUMP 2.0 “Systems and Architectures for Distributed Compute” theme, will be directed by UIUC Computer Science (CS) professor Josep Torrellas and includes UIUC CS faculty Tarek Abdelzaher and Charith Mendis among the investigators. The Processing with Intelligent Storage and Memory (PRISM) center, which will be the “Intelligent Memory and Storage” theme center, is being co-directed by UIUC ECE’s Nam Sung Kim, with a University of California San Diego director. Finally, UIUC ECE’s Naresh Shanbhag is on the leadership teams of both the Georgia-Tech-led Center for the Co-Design of Cognitive Systems (CoCoSys) and the Columbia-led Center for Ubiquitous Connectivity (CUbiC). They are the centers for the JUMP 2.0 “Cognition” and “Communications and Connectivity” themes, respectively.

Josep Torrellas will lead the ACE Center in developing an “evolvable computing” distributed framework designed for extensibility and composability, with the ultimate goal of delivering a dramatic reduction in the energy consumption of distributed computing.

“To meet ACE’s goal of high-performance, energy-efficient, and secure distributed computing, we envision the future computing infrastructure as a seamless hierarchy of compute centers that span from the edge to geo-distributed mega-datacenters,” explains Torrellas, who is the Saburo Muroga Professor of Computer Science. “Each compute center will contain a myriad of heterogeneous hardware accelerators, and tasks of unprecedentedly small granularity will ship computation across the globe to where data are.”

ACE will receive $31.5 million from SRC plus matching funds from the participating universities, for a total budget of $39.6 million over five years. UIUC is the lead institution of a 13-university consortium that also includes Cornell, Georgia Tech, Harvard, MIT, Ohio State, Purdue, Stanford, UCSD, the University of Kansas, the University of Michigan, UT Austin, and the University of Washington.

The PRISM Center that Nam Sung Kim will co-direct will pave the way towards providing the massive, distributed memory and storage that will be needed for future applications. The team envisions intelligent memory and storage systems (IMS) that embody fundamental innovations across the stack—including systems, architecture, circuits, and devices—to achieve hundredfold improvements in power, performance, area, and cost. PRISM will receive $35.0 million from SRC plus cost share from the universities for a total budget of $50.4 million over five years.

“Cost-effectively storing large amounts of data in memory and storage devices, and quickly retrieving the data from the memory and storage devices for timely processing, has become one of the grand challenge problems in the computing industry,” notes Kim, who is the W.J. “Jerry” Sanders III – Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Endowed Chair in Electrical and Computer Engineering. “As a co-director of this center, I am very excited to design the grand research vision of this center, selecting and directing the top technical talents—both professors and students—and impacting the future direction of the computing industry.”

Of the two centers Naresh Shanbhag will help lead, CUbiC will focus on energy-efficient, high-data-rate wireline and wireless connectivity to enable emerging data-centric applications, while CoCoSys will look to design energy-efficient cognitive and artificial intelligence systems. For CUbiC, Shanbhag, who is the Jack S. Kilby Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, will lead the “Wireline and Lightwave Interconnects” research theme, which will develop solutions to reduce the energy costs and bandwidth bottlenecks that afflict movement of data within a datacenter. For CoCoSys, he will lead research in “Neural, Symbolic, and Probabilistic Algorithms,” working to develop accurate, robust, and efficient cognitive algorithms and hardware.

Shanbhag sees his leadership roles in the two centers as complementary in addressing the growing needs of next-generation AI applications, with CUbiC focusing on efficiently moving data between processors, and CoCoSys focusing on making the processors themselves efficient. Pavan Hanumolu, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, will also be an investigator in CUbiC.

Shanbhag emphasizes the great benefit to UIUC students from having UIUC leadership in four of the seven JUMP 2.0 centers. “These centers bring the best minds in the area,” he says. He notes that about a hundred graduate students in each center will “have the opportunity to interact with the top researchers in their areas... It can be a great career-building community and opportunity.”

Torrellas says that the ACE Center will be “the largest research effort” of his career so far—and he’s excited about what will emerge out of these unique, large-scale collaborations, and their ability to draw on the differing strengths of industry and academia.

“People in industry are extremely good technically, but... they must focus on the near term. It’s natural that when companies think about the long term, they go to universities,” he says.