Wednesday, November 05, 2003
Hewlett Packard Auditorium, 306 Soda Hall
Professor Mark Horowitz
Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences Dept.,
Technology scaling has driven integrated circuit designers for the past four decades, both enabling
them to create ever more complex electronic systems, but also forcing them to change the way that
they think about design. This talk is a mostly serious look at the factors driving designers today,
looking at design issues that future designers will need to face.
Although technology scaling is a predictable/smooth process, designer's response is not smooth, and
often has step like changes when new tools or techniques are introduced. Some of the most dramatic
design changes occur when the basic circuit technology changes, but other design changes can be as
large, like the introduction of HDL and synthesis. We are currently facing a number of issues which
might lead to large changes in design. The most critical is power. Previous shifts in circuit
style, from bipolar (TTL and ECL, if you are old enough to remember) to nMOS, and then from nMOS
to the CMOS style we have been using for roughly the past 20 years were partially driven by power
issues. Yet today's CMOS chips dissipate more power than even the old bipolar chips did, and the
scaling trends are not promising. The looming power constraints will force us to worry about
performance efficiency and not performance, since in the future the peak performance solution will
always dissipate too much power.
Mark Horowitz is the Yahoo Founder's Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at
Stanford University. He received his BS and MS in Electrical Engineering from MIT in 1978, and his
PhD from Stanford in 1984. Dr. Horowitz is the recipient of a 1985 Presidential Young Investigator
Award, and an IBM Faculty development award, as well as the 1993 best paper award at the
International Solid State Circuits Conference.
Dr Horowitz's research area is in digital system design, and he has led a number of processor
designs including MIPS-X, one of the first processors to include an on-chip instruction cache,
TORCH, a statically-scheduled, superscalar processor that supported speculative execution, and
FLASH, a flexible DSM machine. He has also worked in a number of other chip design areas including
high-speed and low-power memory design, high-bandwidth interfaces, and fast floating point. In
1990 he took leave from Stanford to help start Rambus Inc, a company designing high-bandwidth chip
interface technology. His current research includes multiprocessor design, low power circuits,
memory design, and high-speed links.