University of Pittsburgh
December 3, 2002

IBM Donates Equipment for Computer Power Management Research at Pitt Study to assess power needs for satellites, unpiloted drones

Contact:  412-624-4147

December 4, 2002

PITTSBURGH—Replacing a power source in a satellite or an unpiloted drone vehicle is, needless to say, extremely difficult, so University of Pittsburgh researchers are working with colleagues at IBM Corp. to study power management in such machines. As part of the research, IBM has donated $70,000 worth of specialized equipment to Pitt for the project, Power Management in Reliable and Highly Available Systems.

"Highly available computer systems are designed to function despite some component failure," says principal investigator Rami Melhem, professor and chair of Pitt's Department of Computer Science and professor in the departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Engineering. "These systems are designed to tolerate failure and even to repair themselves such that the users do not feel any disruption of service."

Daniel Mossé, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, is collaborating on the project.

The equipment, which is being made available through IBM's Sponsored University Research program, falls into three categories:

• Systems built around variable speed central processing units;

• Disk arrays to study power management issues in storage structures; and

• High-end servers to allow large simulations to evaluate the tradeoffs in the systems studied in the project.

"Power management is important in three cases," says Melhem. "It is important for portable devices where battery life is limited; for remotely deployed systems, such as satellites and autonomous vehicles, where energy is a scarce resource; and for large computer centers where power consumption and cooling costs become major factors from an economic and an environmental point of view."

The research is part of two ongoing collaborations between Pitt's Department of Computer Science and IBM on projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

"This continuous collaboration between Pitt's Department of Computer Science and IBM is very fruitful for both organizations, since it allows Pitt researchers to access the latest development and technology in industry, and it allows IBM researchers to access the latest research results in academia," says Melhem. "This IBM equipment grant will provide a powerful computing platform to conduct large experiments and simulations aimed at studying the performance and reliability of the power management and fault tolerance techniques that we are designing."