A Collaborative Force: Unveiling CXL's Potential with Intel and UIUC


The field of computer architecture and semiconductor design is constantly evolving, and at the forefront of this progress is a transformative collaboration between Nam Sung Kim, Professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and JUMP 2.0 PRISM Center Co-Director, and researchers and architects from Intel Corporation, an SRC member. This partnership, spearheaded by multiple research and tech transfer projects, is driving innovation in Compute Express Link (CXL) devices.

CXL, an open industry standard, promises to revolutionize data center architectures by enabling high-speed communication between CPUs, various accelerators, and devices. Professor Kim is at the forefront of this cutting-edge direction. His exploration of CXL devices has been nothing short of revolutionary, and promises to reshape data center architectures, memory hierarchies, and interconnects.

Professor Kim’s pioneering work on CXL starts with CXL type 3 memory and type 2 cache-coherent accelerator exploration and novel usages. This collaborative project, contributed by Prof. Kim and Intel architects like Dr. Ren Wang, Dr. Yifan Yuan, Bhushan Chitlur, Robert Blankenship, and Pekon Gupta, tackles the challenge of integrating CXL devices seamlessly within existing computing architectures and unleashing their potentials with various hardware/software innovations. Success in this direction would pave the way for a new generation of cloud datacenter systems.

Beyond CXL, the collaboration extends to exploring near-data acceleration techniques. This research focuses on leveraging on-chip accelerators to minimize data movement bottlenecks, leading to significant reductions in latency and energy consumption.

The impact of this collaborative effort is evident in the numerous publications achieved in prestigious conferences and industry events.

Additionally, the project has served as a springboard for future industry leaders, with alumni like Yifan Yuan, currently a system research scientist at Intel, demonstrating the program's success.

Intel's early recognition of Professor Kim's expertise has fostered a collaboration that transcends theoretical research. The project's findings have real-world applications, influencing Intel's product development in areas like memory hierarchy and CXL devices.

This collaboration between the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and Intel Corporation serves as a prime example of successful research transfer. It highlights the power of synergy between academia and industry, where theoretical advancements pave the way for practical innovations that shape the future of technology. The next time you experience the speed of a modern data center or the efficiency of a new device, remember the fingerprints of this research etched into the silicon and the role of Prof. Kim and SRC as a bridge between academia and industry.

View Dr. Nam Sung Kim's profile and projects in Pillar Science: https://app.pillar.science/users/2598.

Image Source: Intel website

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