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VLIW Pioneer Wins Computer Architecture's Most Prestigious Award

Josh Fisher is Second Consecutive HP Labs
Researcher to Win Eckert-Mauchly Prize

June 2003

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The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE CS) will jointly present the prestigious Eckert-Mauchly Award to Senior HP Fellow Dr. Joseph A. (“Josh”) Fisher for his contributions to instruction-level processors (ILP) and compilers that use a style of architecture called VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word).

Fisher's pioneering research on VLIW, which enables faster processing, and his work on ILP and custom-fit processors, widely used in special-purpose devices such as mobile phones, have had a lasting impact on much of computer architecture, the technical organizations said. VLIW computing is a CPU architecture that reads a group of instructions and executes them all at the same time.

The Eckert-Mauchly Award is known as the most prestigious award in the computer architecture community. Fisher will receive the award and its $5,000 prize at the ACM Awards Banquet on June 7.

“As this award demonstrates, Josh's contributions rank among the most influential and profound in the industry,” said Dick Lampman, senior vice president for research, HP, and director of HP Labs. “He now appropriately takes his place among the elite who have been similarly recognized, including Gordon Bell, John Cocke, Seymour Cray, John Hennessy and the 2002 recipient HP Senior Fellow Bob Rau, Josh's longtime friend and fellow VLIW pioneer, who died last December.”

Fisher's contributions to the development of computer architecture, in particular instruction-level processors (ILP) and Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture, span more than 25 years. As a graduate student, he developed trace scheduling, a compiler methodology that completely revolutionized how code is generated for ILP CPUs and inspired many of the global compilation techniques for VLIW, superscalar and DSP processors. While a member of the computer science faculty at Yale University, he developed many of the basic techniques of compiler-controlled ILP, coining the terms VLIW and ILP in the process.

In 1984 Fisher co-founded Multiflow Computer, which built VLIW mini-supercomputers and demonstrated the practicality of ILP. He joined HP Labs in 1990 to work on the PA-WW (Precision Architecture--Wide-Word) project, which eventually became IA-64. In 1994, he established HP Labs Cambridge to continue research in VLIW architectures and compilers, and to develop custom-fit processors for specialized devices, which resulted in the Lx/ST200 family of VLIW embedded processors, co-developed with STMicroelectronics. These processors are now being used in a variety of digital video consumer products.

Fisher is a Senior HP Fellow and a senior member of IEEE. In 1987, he won the Eli Whitney Connecticut Entrepreneur of the Year Award. He was awarded the National Science Foundation's 1984 President's Young Investigator Award. Fisher earned his BA in mathematics from New York University and his MS and PhD in computer science from NYU's Courant Institute.

The Eckert-Mauchly award, initiated in 1989, is given for contributions to computer and digital systems architecture. It was named for John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly, who in 1947 collaborated on the design and construction of the first large scale electronic computing machine, known as ENIAC - the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a major force in advancing the skills of information technology professionals and students, with a global membership of 75,000.

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