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Processor architect wins Eckert-Mauchly Award

May 20, 2011 By Chris Barncard

University of Wisconsin–Madison computer sciences professor Gurindar “Guri” Sohi will be honored for techniques that contributed to the design of high-performance microprocessors.

The Computer Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the Association for Computing Machinery named Sohi the recipient of the Eckert-Mauchly Award this month, citing his innovations in processor architecture and instruction-level parallel processing.

Sohi will receive the 2011 Eckert-Mauchly Award, known as the computer architecture community’s most prestigious award, at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture on June 7 in San Jose, Calif.

A member of the UW–Madison computer sciences faculty since 1985, Sohi — now John P. Morgridge and E. David Cronon Professor of Computer Sciences — proposed new models for the design of microprocessors that can process multiple instructions of a computer program in parallel. His innovations are found today in almost every microprocessor used from personal computers to powerful servers, and will soon be at work in smart phones and tablet computers.

Sohi’s influence on leading-edge microprocessors includes the multiscalar paradigm — which guides the execution of a single, sequential program on multiple processing cores — and his research group’s proposal of memory dependence prediction, which further improved microprocessor performance.

A fellow of the IEEE and ACM and member of the National Academy of Engineering, Sohi served as chair of UW–Madison’s Computer Sciences Department from 2004 to 2008. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering at Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Pilani, India, and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Illinois.

The Eckert-Mauchly Award, initiated in 1979, recognizes contributions to computer and digital systems architecture and includes a $5,000 prize. The award was named for John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly, who collaborated on the design and construction of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), the first large-scale electronic computing machine. Previous winners of the award include Wisconsin native Seymour Cray.