Imagine owning an automobile that can change its engine to suit your driving needs – when you’re tooling about town, it works like a super-fast sports car; when you’re hauling a heavy load, it operates like a strong, durable truck engine. While this turn-on-a-dime flexibility is impossible for cars to achieve, it is now possible for today’s computer chips.
A new, patent-pending technology developed over the last five years by UCR’s Frank Vahid, Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, called “Warp processing” gives a computer chip the ability to improve its performance over time. The benefits of Warp processing are just being discovered by the computing industry. A range of companies including IBM, Intel and Motorola’s Freescale have already pursued licenses for the technology through UCR’s funding source, the Semiconductor Research Corporation.
Here’s how Warp processing works: When a program first runs on a microprocessor chip (such as a Pentium), the chip monitors the program to detect its most frequently-executed parts. The microprocessor then automatically tries to move those parts to a special kind of chip called a field-programmable gate array, or FPGA. “An FPGA can execute some (but not all) programs much faster than a microprocessor – 10 times, 100 times, even 1,000 times faster,” explains Vahid.