Informatics, TU Vienna

Talk: Processing Data Where It Makes Sense in Modern Computing Systems: Enabling In-Memory Computation

Visiting Prof. Onur Mutlu / ETH Zurich

Talk abstract:

Today's systems are overwhelmingly designed to move data to
computation. This design choice goes directly against at least three
key trends in systems that cause performance, scalability and energy
bottlenecks: 1) data access from memory is already a key bottleneck as
applications become more data-intensive and memory bandwidth and
energy do not scale well, 2) energy consumption is a key constraint in
especially mobile and server systems, 3) data movement is very
expensive in terms of bandwidth, energy and latency, much more so than
computation. These trends are especially severely-felt in the
data-intensive server and energy-constrained mobile systems of today.

At the same time, conventional memory technology is facing many
scaling challenges in terms of reliability, energy, and
performance. As a result, memory system architects are open to
organizing memory in different ways and making it more intelligent, at
the expense of slightly higher cost. The emergence of 3D-stacked
memory plus logic, the adoption of error correcting codes inside the
latest DRAM chips, and intelligent memory controllers to solve the
RowHammer problem are an evidence of this trend.

In this talk, I will discuss some recent research that aims to
practically enable computation close to data. After motivating trends
in applications as well as technology, we will discuss at least two
promising directions: 1) performing massively-parallel bulk operations
in memory by exploiting the analog operational properties of DRAM,
with low-cost changes, 2) exploiting the logic layer in 3D-stacked
memory technology in various ways to accelerate important
data-intensive applications. In both approaches, we will discuss
relevant cross-layer research, design, and adoption challenges in
devices, architecture, systems, applications, and programming
models. Our focus will be the development of in-memory processing
designs that can be adopted in real computing platforms and real
data-intensive applications, spanning machine learning, graph
processing, data analytics, and genome analysis, at low cost. If time
permits, we will also discuss and describe simulation and evaluation
infrastructures that can enable exciting and forward-looking research
in future memory systems, including Ramulator and SoftMC.


Onur Mutlu is a Professor of Computer Science at ETH Zurich. He is
also a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University, where he
previously held the Strecker Early Career Professorship. His current
broader research interests are in computer architecture, systems,
hardware security, and bioinformatics. A variety of techniques he,
along with his group and collaborators, has invented over the years
have influenced industry and have been employed in commercial
microprocessors and memory/storage systems. He obtained his PhD and MS
in ECE from the University of Texas at Austin and BS degrees in
Computer Engineering and Psychology from the University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor. He started the Computer Architecture Group at Microsoft
Research (2006-2009), and held various product and research positions
at Intel Corporation, Advanced Micro Devices, VMware, and Google. He
received the inaugural IEEE Computer Society Young Computer Architect
Award, the inaugural Intel Early Career Faculty Award, US National
Science Foundation CAREER Award, Carnegie Mellon University Ladd
Research Award, faculty partnership awards from various companies, and
a healthy number of best paper or "Top Pick" paper recognitions at
various computer systems, architecture, and hardware security
venues. He is an ACM Fellow "for contributions to computer
architecture research, especially in memory systems", IEEE Fellow for
"contributions to computer architecture research and practice", and an
elected member of the Academy of Europe (Academia Europaea). For more
information, please see his webpage at

Information for students

The lecture series on research talks by the visiting professors of the PhD School can also be credited
as an elective course for students of Master’s programs of Informatics More information