ECE’s Wang and Collaborators Awarded $15M by NSF for Developing Superconducting Technology for Faster, More Efficient Computing

prof next to network rack

Yanzhi Wang, assistant professor, electrical and computer engineering (ECE), is part of a multi-university team that was awarded a $15 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation’s Expeditions in Computing program.

With collaborators from the University of Southern California, Cornell University, Auburn University, and the University of Rochester, Wang is exploring the use of novel superconductor electronics as a viable next step in computing technology. Superconductor electronics can deliver ultra-high performance and energy efficiency at scale, resulting in better, faster computing systems suitable for general use.

“Superconducting electronics may be the future of very promising computing technology,” says Wang. “It is similar to quantum computing in that it is much, much faster, but it can be used for ordinary problems. This technology can perhaps serve as the interface between quantum and classical computing.”

The team, called the DISCoVER (Design & Integration of Superconductive Computation for Ventures beyond Exascale Realization) Expedition, will use the grant funding to design and demonstrate a superconductive system of cryogenic computing cores (SuperSoCC), an artifact built from superconductive electronic components capable of yielding >100x improved energy efficiency at the same performance as CMOS—the small, battery-powered semiconductor chip that stores information in today’s traditional computers.

The team brings together expertise in superconducting materials and devices, circuits, and architectures that scale, advanced design-automation tools for easing design complexity, and supporting compilers and runtime systems. Through this new technology, the team hopes to create innovations in integrated electronics, sustainable exa-scale computing, and acceleration of machine learning.

“Ultimately, we want to show the world that it’s possible to use supercomputing for general purposes, and it can be used to realize energy efficiency and faster performance,” says Wang. “This alternative and continuation in the state of technology could significantly enhance our potential to reduce the energy crisis in data and cloud computing centers around the world.”

Other potential uses include climate change modeling, detection of underground geological resources, enhancement of pharmaceutical drug design for personalized medicines and healthcare, and development of innovative smart materials and infrastructure.

DISCoVER also seeks to empower a new generation of engineers and entrepreneurs who will bring superconducting to the mainstream of computing through hands-on superconducting labs combined with K-12 outreach across partner institutions.

Related Faculty: Yanzhi Wang

Related Departments:Electrical & Computer Engineering