CASTL conducts research on future computer architectures that will scale to exa-ops and beyond, co-operative hardware-software techniques, efficient microarchitectures, and secure systems.

Methods and Tools for Accelerating Discoveries

Systems engineering relies on observation and refinement – we observe inefficiencies or usage patterns and refine our systems based on these observations. At CASTL we are developing tools to make observation easier via pattern detection, machine learning, program analysis and runtime monitoring.

Hybrid Discrete-Continuous Computer Architectures

Current technology trends indicate that power- and energy-efficiency will limit chip throughput in the future. Current solutions to these problems, either in the way of digital acceleration or parallel execution are very close to reaching their limits because of fundamental transistor efficiency constraints and achievable speedup due to sequential regions. A significant departure from current computing methods is required to carry forward computing advances.

At CASTL, we are improving the energy-efficiency and programmability of a large class of problems by employing a hybrid discrete-continuous model of computation instead of the ubiquitous, traditional discrete model of computation. A fundamental source of inefficiency in computing systems today is that many real-world continuous problems are artificially mapped on to the discrete execution model. We will discuss historical reasons for this approach and how the mismatch limits achievable efficiency and complicates programming. Then, drawing inspiration from the early analog computers that provided hardware primitives for continuous operations such as mathematical integration and by leveraging some features of modern digital implementations, I will discuss how on-chip analog accelerators combined with digital cores can implement the proposed hybrid discrete-continuous model and provide execution capabilities that are superior to either implementation alone.

Protection against Insider Attacks on Hardware

During the design phase of hardware, malicious designers can insert backdoors. These backdoors can cause hardware to fail on command or leak sensitive information. Techniques created in CASTL can prevent these backdoors from being effective.