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Generalized Reversible Computing and the Unconventional Computing Landscape by Michael Frank


With the end of transistor scaling now in sight, the raw energy efficiency (and thus, practical performance) of conventional digital computing is expected to soon plateau. Thus, there is presently a growing interest in exploring various unconventional types of computing that may have the potential to take us beyond the limits of conventional CMOS technology. In this talk, I survey a range of unconventional computing approaches, with an emphasis on reversible computing (defined in an appropriately generalized way), which fundamental physical arguments indicate is the only possible approach that can potentially increase energy efficiency and affordable performance of arbitrary computations by unboundedly large factors as the technology is further developed


About the Speaker:

Michael Frank attended the world’s first class on nanotechnology during his Freshman year at Stanford in 1988, and received his B.Sci. in Symbo­lic Systems in 1991, after helping the Cardinal take home the world championship trophy in the ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest. During his graduate work at MIT, his research interests zeroed in on the limits of computing. In 1995 he designed one of the first universal molecular computers using DNA, and, after finding that fundamental thermochemistry forced it to be reversible, he began studying more efficient electronic implementations of reversible computing for his Ph.D. After helping to design the world’s first fully reversible microprocessors, he graduated in 1999 and spent most of the next 16 years teaching and continuing his research at the University of Florida and the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. In 2015 he joined the Non-conventional Computing Technologies department at Sandia National Laboratories, where he is once again trying to help the world understand that it really needs to pursue reversible computing, so that civilization can extract unboundedly manyfold times greater total economic value from computation than would otherwise be possible.

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Support for the Stanford Colloquium on Computer Systems Seminar Series provided by the Stanford Computer Forum. Colloquium on Computer Systems Seminar Series (EE380) presents the current research in design, implementation, analysis, and use of computer systems. Topics range from integrated circuits to operating systems and programming languages. It is free and open to the public, with new lectures each week.

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