DARPA project aims at improving processor performance

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a $16 million grant to Rice University researchers to develop better compilers to improve the performance of applications running on any microprocessor.

The PACE Project targets the compilers that translate applications programming code into the binary digits that microprocessors actually execute. PACE is an acronym for  platform-aware compilation environment.

The aim of the PACE project is to develop tools that will shorten the time required to create high-quality compilers for microprocessors, thus resulting in optimized performance. It is hoped that the project will result in significant performance improvements not just for personal computers, but also for other devices that employ microprocessors, including cell phones, digital hearing aids and antilock brake systems.

"To use a new computer system effectively, an applications programmer needs a high-quality compiler, one that can translate the application in a way that achieves a reasonable fraction of the available performance," said Keith Cooper, Rice’s John and Ann Doerr Professor in Computational Engineering and a principal investigator on the PACE project. "Unfortunately, it typically takes about five years to develop a high-quality compiler for a new computer system, and because that's longer than the effective life cycle of most microprocessors, we rarely see a case where applications make good use of a processor's resources."

About the Author

Patrick Marshall is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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