Same Hardware – Double the Speed?

Hardware. image by pixabay

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A new approach developed by researchers at the University of California can double the processing power of existing devices without any addition of hardware, which could reduce the energy consumption of devices by half.

Every computing device use built of many different components and systems like different types of memories and processors. Recent years brought the advances of AI and machine learning, which brought with them the addition of hardware accelerators, signal processing units, and other components. Each unit in such devices processes information individually and then moves it to the next unit, and so this movement of information from one component to the next creates a bottleneck that increases computing time and energy.

A new experimental approach called Simultaneous and Heterogenous Multithreading (SHMT) was developed by Hung-Wei Tseng, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California – it addresses this problem by removing the sequential processing of information and allows simultaneous information processing.

When tested using a multi-core ARM processor, an NVIDIA GPU, and a Tensor Processing Unit hardware accelerator, the SHMT framework delivered a 1.96 times increase in processing speed and a 51 percent reduction in power consumption.

According to Interesting Engineering, this innovative information processing approach has immense implications. It would double the output of currently available devices without the need to upgrade the hardware, which so far had to be periodically upgraded to keep up with the performance of current technologies. Now, a mere change in how data is processed on a tablet or smartphone can unleash almost twice the computing speed and significantly lengthen the device’s lifetime.

This approach will save money both for individual users and for technology companies with massive data centers that consume huge amounts of energy. The International Energy Agency estimates that these facilities are consuming nearly one percent of global energy demand, which is only expected to increase as we lean on more and more technology for our daily tasks.

Furthermore, most facilities are powered by fossil fuels and are therefore major contributors to global carbon emissions. SHMT can halve energy consumption and help reduce carbon emissions.

While this innovation is far from ready for commercial use, it brings new hope to a world gradually consumed with technology.