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ACM Honors Designer of Customized Computer Chips

HP Scientist Developed Automated Design Tool to Speed Chip Production

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May 2002

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEEE Computer Society will jointly present the prestigious Eckert-Mauchly Award to Dr. B. Ramakrishna (Bob) Rau of HP Labs for his pioneering contributions to instruction-level parallel processors and compilers that use the VLIW (Very Long Instruction Word) style of architecture.

Rau, who manages HP Labs' Compiler and Architecture Research (CAR) Program, developed a prototype of an automated design tool for custom processors that produces customized chips more quickly and less expensively than those designed manually.

The Eckert-Mauchly Award, which carries a $5000 prize, will be presented at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA), May 25-29, 2002.

"Bob Rau has been instrumental in developing the core architectural concept known as EPIC (Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing), which is the basis of today's most commonly-used processors," said John R. White, executive director and CEO of ACM. "He has made a significant contribution to maintaining the spectacular rate of increase in microprocessor performance without unacceptable hardware complexity."

Rau and his group have leveraged their VLIW/EPIC technology to develop PICO (Program In, Chip Out), a prototype of an automated design tool for custom processors and accelerators. The EPIC architectural concept is the basis of the Intel IA-64 architecture, jointly developed by Intel and HP.

Custom chips are expected to increase in demand as "smart products" such as multimedia devices and navigation systems in automobiles enter wider use.

"Such tools will encourage a huge smart-product industry to flourish," said Rau.

His group's mission at HP's CAR Program is to develop high-performance computing solutions for embedded applications, which often require extreme cost and performance goals that cannot be met by conventional off-the-shelf equipment.

"To achieve these goals, we focus on exploiting very high levels of customization and parallelism to get high performance at a reduced cost," Rau said.

Rau is a Member of ACM and a Fellow of IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) and an HP Fellow.

He has taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he is currently an adjunct professor, and has been a consulting professor at Stanford University.

Prior to joining HP Labs, Rau co-founded Cydrome Inc. and was chief architect of the Cydra 5 mini-supercomputer, one of the first commercial VLIW products. He received a bachelor of technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras, India, and earned his MS and PhD degrees at Stanford University in California.

ACM and IEEE will jointly present the Eckert-Mauchly Award, described as the most prestigious award in the computer architecture community, at the ISCA in Anchorage, Alaska later this month.

The 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 collaborated on the design and construction of the first large scale electronic computing machine, known as ENIAC - the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, in 1947.

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a major force in advancing the skills of information technology professionals and students. ACM serves its global membership of 75,000 by delivering cutting edge technical information and transferring ideas from theory to practice.

HP Labs is the central research facility for Hewlett-Packard.

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