Creating and sharing knowledge for telecommunications

Talk - Approximate computation for energy saving and delaying the inevitable heat death

on 30-01-2014

... Igor Neri (University of Perugia)

Date & time: 30/01/2014 at 10:30.

Location: Seminar Room (2.8.3), Physics Department, Instituto Superior Técnico, Lisbon.


Maximum energy efficiency in computation is bound both by technological and physical limits. The ultimate limit in computation is a consequence of thermodynamics and was first argued in 1961 by Rolf Landauer from which it takes the name. This limit can be beaten by trading the dissipated energy with the uncertainty in the distinguishability of switch logic states.

In this seminar the exploitation of faulty logic gates to save energy will be considered. A logic gate simulator, considering hardware prone to errors (i.e. operating the switches below the Landauer limit), within the stochastic logic gate model used, will be presented.

Simulated results of sorting algorithms based on faulty hardware will then be presented and discussed. The computation error will then be related to the energy saving in respect to the correct computation assuming to operate the logic gates switches at the Landauer limit.

The presented results highlight that accepting a small error in computation it is possible to save energy, correlating accuracy to energy saving in respect to the Landauer limit. However an effort have to be made from different fields of engineering and science in order to exploit at the best the potential of approximate computation.

Physics of Information Seminar

Supported with funding from FCT, FEDER and EU FP7, specifically through FCT strategic project FCT PEst-OE/EEI/LA0008/2013 and the FP7 projects Landauer (GA 318287) and PAPETS (GA 323901). More Information..