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VCU Professor Awarded $500K NSF Research Grant

Monday, September 29, 2014  
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The National Science Foundation awarded Wei Zhang, Ph.D., professor in Virginia Commonwealth University's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, a half million dollar, three year research grant to further his inquiries into enhancing time predictability in Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) based hard real-time systems—research that will have a big impact on how people work with high-throughput computers.

Zhang's project entitled, "CSR: Small: A Time-Predictable Integrated CPU-GPU Architecture for Hard Real-Time Systems," focuses on creating new accelerator-based architectures with real-time predictability all while keeping high performance and energy efficiency. In areas such as transportation and medicine, the potential effects of Zhang's research are vast.

"If in the future, we are likely to have self-driving cars," hypothesized Zhang, "that would mean that the cars would have to be very reliable, for which real-time and high-throughput visual computing in crucial. The embedded computers would need to process hundreds of pictures in real time to replace the control of a human driver for safe and efficient navigation."

Today, precision is critical in the operating room. In medical image processing large amounts of data need to be quickly computed. The capabilities that Zhang's project offers will put medical image processing in the operating room, thereby helping physicians and surgeons get useful feedback online during surgery.

Examples such as this, Zhang hopes, could potentially become reality one day by continuing research on time-predictable computing systems.

In addition to exploring GPUs in his NSF-funded research, Zhang also led the effort to establish the VCU Compute Unified Device Architecture (CUDA) Research Center (CRC). CUDA Research Centers promote expansion for massively parallel computing through collaboration between research teams at universities and research institutes.

This center is a collaborative force that will enable multi-disciplinary teamwork between Zhang's research endeavors and VCU's Medical School and life sciences. Through the CUDA Research Center, Zhang, the Principal Investigator and other faculty such as co-PIs Weijun Xiao Ph.D. and Hong-Sheng Zhou Ph.D. conduct research concerning integrated CPU-GPUs, memory organization, security, power efficiency, compiler optimizations and algorithm design.

Of the real-world effects that the NSF's grant and other partnership opportunities will promote, Zhang had to say, "They have the applications. We have the technical knowledge. Working together we can solve challenging problems."

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