While conventional processor designs (including their energy delivery systems and heat sinks) are designed primarly for sustained performance, we pose the question: “What would a system look like if designed to provide responsiveness during bursts rather than with a singular focus on sustained performance?” Our approach, called computational sprinting is aimed at mobile environments like smart-phones, where many interactive applications are characterized by short bursts of computational demand punctuated by long idle periods waiting for user input. Computational sprinting activates otherwise powered-down cores for sub-second bursts of intense parallel computation in response to such sporadic user activity. During sprints, the processor generates heat at a rate that far exceeds the thermal (cooling) and electrical (power delivery and stability) capacities of a typical smart-phone like device. This project therfore explores various thermal, electrical, architectural and software/runtime aspects to effectively facilitate sprinting for short time durations overcoming the physical challenges inherent in our target environments.
See also “Mobile supercomputers“.
Update: See also this recent conference paper.