Profs. Tsividis and Nowick win a $1 million NSF grant

The National Science Foundation has awarded a $1 million grant to
Professors Yannis Tsividis of Electrical Engineering (principal
investigator) and Steven Nowick of Computer Science (co-principal
investigator) to perform research in ultra low-power microelectronic
systems which perform continuous monitoring, acquisition and processing
of signals occurring in the physical world. Such systems can be used in
a wide range of applications, from environmental sensors to implantable
or ingestible biomedical devices. This interdisciplinary research
combines the expertise of the two investigators in continuous-time
digital signal processors and in asynchronous digital design.

The proposal, entitled "Power-Adaptive, Event-Driven Data Conversion and
Signal Processing Using Asynchronous Digital Techniques", addresses the
increasing demand for ultra low-power and high-quality microelectronic
systems that continuously acquire and process information, as soon as it
becomes available.  In these applications, new information is generated
infrequently, at irregular and unpredictable intervals. This event-based
nature of the information calls for a drastic re-thinking of how these
signals are monitored and processed.

Traditional synchronous (i.e. clocked) digital techniques, which use
fixed-rate operation to evaluate data whether or not it has changed, are
a poor match for the above applications, and often lead to excessive
power consumption. This research aims instead to provide viable
"event-based" systems: controlled not by a clock but rather by the
arrival of each event.  Asynchronous (i.e. clock-less) digital logic
techniques, which are ideally suited for this work, are combined with
continuous-time digital signal processing, to make this task possible.
Such continuous-time data acquisition and processing promises
significant power and energy reduction, flexible support for a variety
of signal processing protocols and encodings, high-quality output
signals, and graceful scalability to future microelectronic
technologies. A series of silicon chips will be designed and fully
evaluated, culminating in a fully programmable, event-driven data
acquisition and signal processing system, which can be used as a testbed
for a wide variety of real-world applications.


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