Researchers at the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science and Pennsylvania State University are pursuing a dramatically different hardware computing platform that can generate solutions while satisfying all the constraints imposed by real-world users and conditions.
Real-world needs for such complex services as efficient manufacturing, drug discovery, supply chain logistics and wireless communication have outpaced the computing resources of conventional computers — there are simply too many variables and constraints for a digital machine to calculate efficiently.
The team — led by Nikhil Shukla, a UVA assistant professor with a joint appointment in electrical and computer engineering and materials science and engineering — envisions an alternative to digital computing and its rules-based — a platform that allows the natural physics of oscillators and their synchrony to do the computing.
Instead of computing with ones and zeros like digital computers, an alternative computing paradigm uses the spatial-temporal properties of the system — the behavior of one oscillator with respect to others, over time. The team’s proposed hardware platform, named FerroCoDE, will compute in the analog domain to exploit the rich spatial and temporal characteristics of the underlying devices and circuits.
“We approach the hardware platform design as a systems challenge,” Shukla said.