Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A hardware-software symbiosis

The Tortola virtual interface ...

"We all want smaller and faster computers. Of course, this increases the complexity of the work of computer designers. But now, computer scientists from the University of Virginia are coming with a radical new idea which may revolutionize computer design. They’ve developed Tortola, a virtual interface that enables hardware and software to communicate and to solve problems together. This approach can be applied to get a better performance from a specific system. It also can be used in the areas of security or power consumption. And it soon could be commercialized with the help of IBM and Intel.

Kim Hazelwood, an assistant professor of computer science, received $50,000 award from the Fund for Excellence in Science and Technology (FEST) Distinguished Young Investigator Grant program, for her idea of a new layer between hardware and software. This will help her and her team to develop the Tortola Project. You can see on the diagram above how an application would run by using this middle layer between hardware and software. (Credit: The Tortola Project)

Now, let’s read the explanations given by the University of Virginia.

Computer engineers have long tried to optimize computer systems by instituting changes based within the hardware, but according to Hazelwood, targeting this single layer is limiting. She notes that traditionally, the interface between hardware and software has been fixed. “We are looking forward to what we need to do to fundamentally change this — to engineer software that can communicate between the two layers,” she says. Hazelwood is using the FEST grant to help design Tortola — a middle layer between hardware and software that can translate and communicate between software and hardware, allowing for cooperative problem solving. “This middle layer would allow software to adapt to the hardware it’s running on, something engineers have not been able to do in the past,” she says."    (Continued via ZDNet.com)    [Usability Resources]

Tortola Virtual Interface - Usability, User Interface Design

Tortola Virtual Interface

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