David Blaauw honored with SIA/SRC University Research Award

Prof. Blaauw was a key member of the team that developed the world’s first millimeter-scale computer, known as the Michigan Micro Mote (M3).

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Prof. David Blaauw was presented with the University Research Award by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), in consultation with Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), recognizing lifetime research contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry by a university faculty in the area of design research. He was presented with the award by the SIA Board on September 21, 2016 in San Jose, CA.

Prof. Blaauw was a key member of the team that developed the world’s first millimeter-scale computer, known as the Michigan Micro Mote (M3). The M3 is the first fully autonomous computing system that measures less than a centimeter. It features ultra-low operating voltage, sensors, a radio, battery, and solar cells to power the computer indefinitely.

More generally, his research has focused on VLSI design with an emphasis on adaptive and low power design.

In the area of adaptive design, Prof. Blaauw introduced a new approach called Razor in 2003 (MICRO) where processor chips automatically tune their frequency or supply voltage to the point of failure, thereby eliminating wasteful design margins.

In the area of low power design, Prof. Blaauw introduced the concept of the “energy optimal voltage” (Vopt) in 2004 (DAC) together with his former student Bo Zhai and colleague Prof. Dennis Sylvester. Blaauw’s and Sylvester’s research team spend the following years developing ultra-low power sensor systems using subthreshold design. this lead to numerous publications, ranging from new, ultra-low voltage SRAM design, subthreshold processor architectures, timers, new subthreshold power gating methods, low power radios, power management, DC-DC conversion, analog to digital conversion (ADC), level shifters, and energy harvesting. This work culminated in the Michigan Micro Mote, which continues to be a primary focus as new applications continue to be found for the technology.

In addition, he has applied low power techniques to throughput limited computing found in data centers. Together with Profs. Mudge, Dreslinski and Sylvester, he introduced the concept of “near threshold design” (NTC) in 2007 (ISLPED). This has lead to new investigations by their research team into low voltage design for chip multiprocessors, including new high radix routers to connect chip multiprocessors with memory, and investigation into 3D design.

Prof. Blaauw has received numerous awards for his innovative work, including the Richard Newton GSRC Industrial Impact Award, the Microprocessor Review Analysts’ Choice Award in Innovation, and the Motorola Innovation Award. He was recognized in numerous categories at the 50th anniversary of the Design Automation Conference, including a top 10 cited author, and was named one of the top 10 contributing authors as part of the International Solid-State Circuits Conference 60th anniversary celebration. He also received the 2012 ICCAD Ten Year Retrospective Most Influential Paper Award, in addition to numerous other Best Paper awards. He has authored of over 500 publications, holds 56 patents, and is an IEEE Fellow.

Before coming to Michigan in 2001, Prof. Blaauw managed the High Performance Design Technology group at Motorola, Inc. He has maintained strong relationships with numerous industry partners.

About the Award

The University Research Award was established in 1995 by the SIA to recognize lifetime research contributions to the U.S. semiconductor industry by university faculty.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) is the voice of the U.S. semiconductor industry, one of America’s top export industries and a key driver of America’s economic strength, national security, and global competitiveness. Semiconductors – microchips that control all modern electronics – enable the systems and products we use to work, communicate, travel, entertain, harness energy, treat illness, and make new scientific discoveries. The semiconductor industry directly employs nearly a quarter of a million people in the U.S.

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) is a non-profit consortium that works with industry, government and academia partners to define, fund and manage university research on behalf of its member companies. Participants gain access to research results and fundamental IP used to compete in the dynamic global marketplace, while recruiting from highly trained students to build the workforce of tomorrow.

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David Blaauw; Honors and Awards; Profile