Todd C. Mowry, 33
Carnegie Mellon University
Can a computer chip be too fast? Maybe, if the CPU is much faster than the memory chip. As a result, the CPU must wait for new data to be loaded from memory, and the computer runs below maximum speed. That creates a problem for computer designers. A brute force solution is to develop faster memory chips, but some designers are looking for more elegant and economical ways to improve performance. One such designer is Todd Mowry.
As a graduate student at Stanford, Mowry came up with one solution: "prefetching" data from memory before the CPU required it, so it would be instantly available when needed. He designed algorithms to determine what data the CPU was likely to want next and make it more quickly accessible by the CPU. Today,as a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, Mowry is working on the development of single-chip multiprocessors: one large chip capable of performing multiple operations at once, using similar techniques to maximize performance.
"Todd Mowry is one of the truly outstanding young computer architects in the world today," says Forest Baskett, chief technology officer at SGI. Mowry’s work, he believes, is "dramatically improving the effective performance of real applications on today’s microprocessors and memory systems."