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Israel IBM set to feed your power-hungry devices

Posted By Karin Kloosterman On February 10, 2008 @ 8:06 am In | No Comments

“We may not be the first to market, but we will probably be the best,” David Bernstein, of the IBM Research Lab in Haifa.If NASA can send human beings to outer space, why is it that cell phone batteries die out after a couple of hours of use?

Taking on the challenge of improving battery and power performance in electronic devices, is a team of developers from the IBM Haifa Research Lab.

The news couldn’t have come sooner. With a steady number of us working from satellite offices and continually on the go, it makes sense that engineers put their minds to developing better power possibilities.

This month, researchers from IBM in Israel announced a collaboration agreement with European partners that will work to give cell phones and other rich media electronic devices a big boost in quality and staying power.

The collaboration deal is part of a new European Union initiative called ACOTES for Advanced Compiler Technologies for Embedded Streaming.

The multi-partner group was established to develop new computing technology that would make it possible for people to enjoy rich media and interactive gaming over handheld devices such as cellphones, without a major power drain.

When ready, it is also expected to give a quality boost to high-definition TV.

The new “system on chip,” expected to be on the market in a couple of years, is yet to have a name, but IBM reps said the decision to promote the product publicly before the launch is a strategic move.

“The strategy of IBM in this project is ‘open collaboration.’ We can invent a new technology on our own, but by joining forces with universities and organizations around the world, we may not be the first to market, but we will probably be the best,” David Bernstein, manager of software and verification technologies at the IBM Research Lab in Haifa, tells ISRAEL21c.

IBM partners include NXP, and STMicroelectronics, the French research group INRIA, the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya in Spain, and the Dutch chip group Silicon Hive.

How does it work? “By getting more parts of the chip to work in parallel, ACOTES increases the utilization of contemporary and future parallel chip architectures,” says Harm Munk, ACOTES project leader in NXP Semiconductors in the Netherlands. “ACOTES will allow future parallel architectures to really flex their computer power muscles.”

The problem with chips today, he explains, is that if we could take a snapshot of how they work, one would see hot points where the computing work is being done, while strips of other areas remain inactive. “ACOTES is geared towards helping chips reach a higher level of parallelism,” adds Munk.

In Israel, IBM has appointed a team of three people to head the project and about 30 people as support. The other European partners will focus mainly on the hardware, while the Israelis will focus on software programming.

For the technically inclined, Bernstein says: “We are converting high-level programs to the multi-core environment.” The result will be a new computing system, he tells ISRAEL21c.

In the last several years, processors have not become faster, notes Bernstein. “There is a technological barrier. The challenge now shifts to software.”

He presumes that IBM competitors Intel and Sun Microsystems, both with major R&D presence in Israel, will also be working on their own solutions. IBM has been established in Israel since 1972 and its Haifa Lab since 2002.

And as for the reason why so much international R&D happens in Israel, Bernstein does not hesitate: “There are two main ingredients,” he says. “There are a significant number of intellectual personnel, many of them previously from the former Soviet Union. The second is the number of companies on the NASDAQ – this shows our entrepreneurial spirit.

“We are coming with unusual solutions, and have an ability to create and to solve hard problems,” concludes Bernstein.

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