VLSI Design (Computer Systems Design sub-discipline) - History

History of Contributions to Advanced Processor Design

Research has a long history of involvement with IBM high-performance processor design: from the pioneering 801 RISC processor of the 1980s and ground-breaking work in Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture and systems to the first IBM mainframe with a CMOS microprocessor in 1996 and the current ultra-complex systems such as those using POWER5™. As the latest processor for IBM’s iSeries™ and pSeries® systems, POWER5 uses eight levels of copper wiring and over a quarter billion transistors to take full advantage of IBM’s leading-edge 130 nm. Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI) technology. Research continues to make major contributions to IBM’s microprocessors, spanning the full spectrum of system design, including microarchitectures, circuits and circuit techniques, low power, design methodologies and tools, design verification, and interaction with technology development. A strong focus centers on developing advanced high-end systems. Along with industry collaborators, for example, Research is working with IBM’s Systems and Technology Group in the development of future server processors, as well as the Cell Broadband Engine™ — the next generation of scalable and power-efficient microprocessors, a multi-core architecture optimized for computer-intensive rich media applications. IBM places a significant emphasis on System-on-a-Chip (SoC) design capabilities, in which pre-design components are used to quickly compose chips with high levels of function. Research contributes to IBM’s SoC capabilities in both the design and tools areas. These capabilities played an integral part in the design of Blue Gene/L that became the world’s fastest supercomputer in 2004.