July 9, 2007
ECE faculty members Ken Mai and C. Fred Higgs III are winners of the National Science Foundation (NSF) Early CAREER Award. The award is bestowed "in support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization." Each grant provides around $400,000 in funding for a period of five years.
Mai, Assistant Professor of ECE, proposes research that aims to improve the performance, efficiency, reliability, and cost of modern digital systems by adding reconfigurability to the memory system.
"Trends in computer architecture are increasing the number and type of requestors making demands on the memory system, yet trends in integrated circuit (IC) manufacturing and process scaling are making the design and manufacture of efficient, robust memories more difficult," Mai said.
His project will explore adding reconfigurability to memory systems at the circuit, microarchitecture, and architecture levels to boost efficiency and robustness. He will also study how reconfigurability can be used to enhance IC security by enabling in-the-field self-reconfiguration and obscuring the design intention at manufacture time.
Higgs, Assistant Professor of MechE and ECE, will use the grant to develop sophisticated computer models that can predict nanofabrication processes on materials used in semiconductor and data storage devices.
"My research could help eliminate costly material testing during [the polishing process] in the ongoing race to produce smaller, faster, and better integrated circuits," Higgs explained.
Excerpts used with permission of Carnegie Mellon News.