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Eckert-Mauchly Award Lauds Patterson for Technolgies that Boost Computer Performance

UC Berkeley Professor Led Introduction of New Designs in Computer Architecture

The Association for Computing Machinery
Advancing Computing as a Science & Profession

Contact: Virginia Gold

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New York, May 15, 2008 – ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) and the IEEE Computer Society (IEEE-CS) will jointly recognize David A. Patterson for his leadership in inventing a microprocessor design which replaces large sets of processor instructions with smaller sets that run faster. The award also cites Patterson's role in the design and implementation of a computer data storage system that replaces big storage disks with multiple small disks to increase reliability and performance. These advances have made computers smaller and cheaper, enabling computer applications that have played a huge role in today's world. Patterson is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He will receive the 2008 Eckert-Mauchly Award, known as the most prestigious award in the computer architecture community, at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture on June 21-25, in Beijing, China.

Patterson’s team at Berkeley coined the term RISC (Reduced Instruction-Set Computing) for a microprocessor design that cuts out many performance-reducing instructions, and processes data in elementary steps repetitively and at faster speeds. Although RISC was highly controversial when it was introduced in 1980, it was eventually adopted by most processor manufacturers, speeding today’s microprocessors and reducing their cost. RISC became the foundation of the SPARC architecture currently used by Fujitsu, Sun Microsystems, and others.

In 1987, Patterson was one of the leaders of a team at Berkeley that developed RAID (Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks) as a way to divide and replicate computer data among multiple hard disk drives that can be managed by the operating system as a single disk. By distributing data across several physical disks, RAID improves the reliability of storing critical information, and vastly increases the speed and performance of data storage technology. This approach, widely used by industry, offers fast, dependable, cheap mass storage of computer data.

The Eckert-Mauchly Award Committee also cited Patterson for his leadership in education, and in disseminating academic research results into successful industrial products.

Patterson is the founding director of the Parallel Computing Laboratory (PAR Lab) on the Berkeley campus, which addresses the multicore challenge to software and hardware. He also founded the Reliable, Adaptive and Distributed Systems Laboratory (RAD Lab), which focuses on the design of more dependable computing systems. He is the co-author of five books, including two with Stanford University President John Hennessy on computer architecture.

A Fellow of ACM and IEEE, Patterson is a member of both the National Academy of Engineering and the National Academy of Sciences. In 2000, he shared the IEEE John von Neumann Medal with John Hennessy for "creating a revolution in computer architecture through their exploration, popularization, and commercialization of architectural innovations." In 2006, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and in 2007, he was named a Fellow of the Computer History Museum and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Patterson holds the E.H. and M.E. Pardee Chair of Computer Science and is a former chair of the Computer Science Division of the UC Berkeley Electrical Engineering and Computer Science department. A past president of ACM from 2004 to 2006, he also chaired ACM’s Special Interest Group in Computer Architecture (SIGARCH), and headed the Computing Research Association (CRA).

Patterson is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he earned his A.B., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. He has consulted for several companies, including Hewlett Packard, (HP), Digital Equipment (now HP), Intel, Microsoft, and Sun Microsystems, and is on the technical advisory board of several companies.

ACM and IEEE-CS co-sponsor the Eckert-Mauchly Award, which was initiated in 1989, and is given for contributions to computer and digital systems architecture. The Eckert-Mauchly Award comes with a $5,000 prize. It was named for John Presper Eckert and John William Mauchly, who collaborated on the design and construction of the first large-scale electronic computing machine, known as ENIAC - the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer, completed in 1947.

About ACM

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting computing educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources and address the field’s challenges. ACM strengthens the computing profession’s collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM supports the professional growth of its members by providing opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and professional networking.

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