The University of Southampton

Computer Science student innovates shared memory upgrade for high-performance computing

Published: 10 December 2018
Wojciech Rozowski at last month’s Science: Polish Perspective 2018 conference

First year Computer Science student Wojciech Rozowski from the University of Southampton has devised a new synchronisation element for high-performance computing that can optimise access to shared data.

The innovation, which draws upon his studies of experimental hardware technology that started as a high school hobby, can improve the performance of operating systems on multi-core computers.

Wojciech presented the findings at last month’s Science: Polish Perspective 2018 conference at the University of Oxford, alongside hundreds of renowned Polish scientists.

The BSc Computer Science student has tapped into the potential of hardware transactional synchronisation extensions (TSX) technology, which has been shown to guarantee an up to 41% increase in performance of handling critical data.

“The efficiency of multi-core processors isn’t in linear relationship with the number of its cores,” Wojciech explains. “The increased number of cores is accompanied by the occurrence of more data conflicts. As a result of this study, a new synchronisation element has been created which combines TSX and spinlocks in such a way that it guarantees error-free handling of all critical data and it uses transactional memory optimisations wherever possible.”

Wojciech presented an early version of this project at Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Phoenix, USA, the world’s largest and most prestigious science fair for pre-university students. His work was acclaimed by academics and placed 4th for the Systems Software and Special Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.

“Developing this project has been an extremely interesting and fun experience for me and a great opportunity to learn new things in areas of parallel computing and computer systems,” Wojciech says. “My ultimate dream would be to write a scientific journal publication about this research. However, to do so I know that I must next improve my testing methods in such a way to get reliable data covering a broader range of test cases.” Wojciech has performed a series of benchmarking tests which proved the technology optimises data access in certain cases and his new synchronisation element has been successfully implemented into the Unix operating system, a popular platform for high-performance computing.

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