Reservoir Labs Targets PERFECT Parallel Tools for DARPA

Reservoir Labs won an $8.7 million contract to deliver new parallel computing software and tools for DARPA’s PERFECT program that may ultimately be used for consumer systems.

Reservoir Labs announced it has been awarded a research contract with options up to $8.7 million in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Power Efficiency Revolution for Embedded Computing Technology (PERFECT) program.

New York City-based Reservoir will be developing software to support new highly power efficient embedded computing devices. Resulting technology will support military systems as well as potentially lead to innovations in the mainstream IT and consumer spaces, as has been common over DARPA’s 50-plus year history.

Reservoir's goal in the PERFECT program is to help develop computer architectures that improve the power efficiency of embedded computing devices from today's 1 giga floating point operation per second per watt (GFLOPS/W) to a future 75 GFLOPS/W, the company said. This capability is needed for current and next generation military systems such as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). Current computer architectures cannot meet the rapidly growing demands of ISR systems within the power, heat dissipation, and weight constraints of military platforms, and this gap is predicted to increase. This is because traditional Moore's Law scaling no longer can increase the performance of computers while maintaining the same power, the company said.

As DARPA's PERFECT program scales performance with new computing architectures, new programming tools and new algorithms will be required, agency officials said.

Reservoir's contribution to the program will be to advance the state of the art in programming tools for these new power efficient architectures. Reservoir will be leveraging its R-Stream optimization software for the effort. R-Stream uses operations research techniques and advanced polyhedral mathematics to generate efficient choreographies of computation over parallel computing hardware to avoid power-burning communications, said Richard Lethin, president of Reservoir Labs. Reservoir will be using R-Stream to target the new near-threshold computing processor architectures being developed in the PERFECT program and new algorithms for next generation ISR systems.

Reservoir Labs’ Software Power Optimization to Efficiency Revolution project, also known as SPOTTER, addresses the concurrency, locality, and algorithms elements in PERFECT. The goal of SPOTTER is to develop tools – compilers and runtimes -- and algorithms to enable a high-level, performance-portable programming model for 75 GFLOPS/W hardware, Lethin said.

"It is a great privilege to have been selected by DARPA for this research program,” Lethin said in a statement. “Our team is looking forward to the challenges presented by these new low power architectures and the opportunity to contribute to US security. Furthermore, the technologies from the PERFECT program will have broad impact saving energy and enabling new capabilities for commercial and consumer devices as they rapidly adopt these innovations."

Lethin said a new class of multicore processors and accelerators has emerged with significant parallelism and on-chip distributed memory – such as General-purpose graphics processing units (GPGPU) -- that requires explicit control and communication among tiled computation kernels. This new class of computation devices offers over a tenfold improvement in power efficiency, but can be 100 times more difficult to program, he said.

The Reservoir technology will support the C language. The company also will be working with a domain-specific language known as Sensor Application Notation for Exascale or SANE, which was built with Air Force Research Labs Small Business Technology Transfer funding.