KAIST develops ‘non-volatile computer’ that restores and operates information without power… World’s first

A Korean research team has developed a computing system that can stop and restart computer time without loss of information. When stopped, all running state and data is maintained without power supply, and can be restored and operated whenever the user wants.

In Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), Professor Myung-soo Jeong’s team (Computer Architecture and Memory System Lab) in the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering has developed such hardware (HW) and software (SW) technologies and a ‘lightweight non-volatile computing system (light PC)’ to the world. It was announced on the 25th that it was developed for the first time.

Conventional computers use volatile memory (DRAM) as their main memory. Without power, data is lost. Non-volatile memory (Intel Optane memory) can store data permanently, but it is slow due to the complicated internal structure design. It is not used as main memory and is only used to hold some data.

In addition, the performance of the non-volatile memory has been improved, so even if it is used alone as the main memory, it cannot retain all information in the event of a sudden power supply cutoff. Temporary storage data such as volatile components in memory, registers of the processor itself or cache memory (volatile) cannot be preserved without power supply.

Although the checkpointing technique to move volatile state data to non-volatile memory or storage device (SSD) has been developed, it consumes additional time and power for periodic data movement and requires a data recovery process that reboots the entire system after a power failure.

The research team developed a processor, memory controller, and operating system (OS) that maintains all program execution states and data without power. The system was configured using only persistent memory, keeping most of the system state non-volatile. A device that converts the remaining non-persistent states to non-volatile after a power loss, allowing the computer to stop time in the event of a power outage.

Overview of Light PC Technology Proposed by KAIST

In addition, it minimized volatile components on the processor HW data path, simplified the internal structure, and maximized data processing parallelism, so that there is no significant difference in performance from high-performance systems that use only DRAM.

To maintain consistency while stopping computer time, the operating system prevents state and data changes so that program execution does not proceed non-deterministically, and adds various form persistence functions. When power is re-applied, it resumes from the time it stopped without booting.

In the light PC verification using a prototype computer, all program execution and data are restored to the state just before the power is lost. Up to 8 times larger memory, 4.3 times faster application execution, and 73% power consumption reduction compared to conventional computers.

Professor Jung Myung-soo said, “The developed non-volatile computer provides large-capacity memory, high reliability, and service safety, so carbon-neutral energy efficiency is expected to be achieved in data centers or high-performance computing and low-power operation. ) will be used to minimize device battery usage and to realize a hyper-connected society.”

Meanwhile, this research will be presented at ‘ISCA 2022’, the best academic conference in the field of computer architecture to be held in June in New York City, USA. This research was conducted with support from Memray, a next-generation memory developer and supplier, the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Research Foundation, and research support from the Information and Communication Planning and Evaluation Institute (IITP). Non-volatile computer real-world behavior and details Lab website and youtubecan be checked in

By Kim Young-jun, staff reporter [email protected]

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