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PhD studentships available

investigating the implications of photonic interconnect on future computer systems
PhD studentships available

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The provision of future services in the digital economy is reliant on achieving more power efficient computers. Photonic technologies appear essential to make chip-to-chip communication sustainable for ever-higher data rates due to inherently higher bandwidth and lower power operation. Recent advances in silicon photonics, photonic printed circuit boards (PCB) and 3D integration technologies will allow complete chip multiprocessor (CMP) systems to be formed within one package including memory, multiprocessors and network communications, as shown in the figure to the right. Interconnecting these packages together could form a low power supercomputer on a PCB or a data centre in a rack. However, given the fundamental differences between electronic and photonic communications, the design implications for complete computer systems are not clear.

As the hardware on the scale required will not be available for several years, this project will attempt to understand the system level performance and power implications of highly integrated photonic interconnect using FPGA-based emulation of complete shared memory computer systems. Emulation of computer systems running real applications combined with characterisation of photonic components and their related electronic control subsystems will allow accurate comparisons between a variety of system configurations.

We are seeking PhD students to join the project based in the Electronic Engineering Department at UCL but working closely with the Computer Architecture Group at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory. Funding is available for home / EU postgraduate students with applicants required to have an honours degree (minimum of 2.1 or equivalent) in Electronic Engineering, Computer Science or a related discipline. We regret that funding is not available to pay University fees for overseas (non-EU) applicants. Applicants should have project experience in one or more of the following areas: computer architectures, computer networks, digital or optical communications, digital design, FPGA programming.

For further details, please contact Dr Philip Watts (pwatts@ee.ucl.ac.uk).