Prestigious Test Of Time Award at ESWEEK 2023 for Memory Controller Research

I am happy to announce that we received the Test Of Time Award for CODES+ISSS at ACM/IEEE Embedded Systems Week (ESWEEK) 2023 in Hamburg, Germany. The Test of Time Award is the most prestigious award of ESWEEK and honors the authors of papers of previous editions of the co-located conferences (CASES 2008, CODES+ISSS 2007, and EMSOFT 2007) that had the highest impact. We received this award for my first paper as a PhD student “Predator: a predictable SDRAM memory controller“, which written with co-authors Kees Goossens and Markus Ringhofer and published in CODES+ISSS 2007.

The paper addressed the problem of providing guarantees on bandwidth and latency to ports on an SDRAM memory controller, a key component of a system-on-chip. Previously, this was only done for statically scheduled memory controllers that assumed the workload of memory requests was known a priori. While this limitation was acceptable for simple systems, increasing integration of functionality in consumer electronics products like set-top boxes challenged this assumption, requiring more dynamic solutions. To this end, the paper presented concepts, hardware architecture, and performance analysis for a more dynamic SDRAM memory controller for real-time systems.

This work formed the base for my memory research, which evolved into a research line that would continue for over a decade and in which six PhD students eventually graduated. In total, this research resulted in a body of work of 30+ papers and two books, which together have been cited more than 2000 times. It also resulted in the open-source tool DRAMPower, which is used to estimate energy consumption of memories. This tool has been integrated in the popular Gem5 simulator and is widely used by the computer architecture community.

The paper was impactful because it was one of the first papers about memory controllers for real-time systems. More papers would follow from Barcelona Supercomputing Center, UC Berkley, and University of Waterloo. Step by step, the proposed memory controllers would become more dynamic and the analysis more sophisticated. This continued until the middle of the previous decade, at which the field moved more from proposing and analyzing new memory controller architectures for systems-on-chips to configuring and analyzing commercial-of-the-shelf memory controllers. This is still an active field of research in the real-time systems community today.

“Receiving this award is an unexpected honor, and I extend my heartfelt thanks to my co-authors and everyone that contributed to subsequent advancements in this field, in particular my former PhD students Karthik Chandrasekar, Manil Dev Gomony, Sven Goossens, Yonghui Li, and Anna Minaeva. Together, we created, developed, and matured the research field of memory controllers for real-time systems.”

Leave a Reply

Leave a Reply