There is an increasing need for research at the intersection of computer science and electrical engineering. One aspect is industrial pull, where partners increasingly want to explore the spaces between traditional hardware versus software-oriented products. Further, blue-sky academic research relies increasingly on the ability to work across the complete spectrum from computational hardware to high-level software. ECS is committed to attracting researchers who can operate within the wide field of computer engineering – we see this as strategic in terms of research portfolio, teaching, and in-house expertise for external collaboration. We are looking to recruit applicants who have a vision of how computational hardware and software will co-evolve. Our vision here is to move beyond the traditional constraints of hardware and software: vital enabling technologies – not available only a decade ago – offer versatile, cheap resource bases to build completely novel compute systems.
A residual common theme of these compute systems – aside from the sheer size, unthinkable at the turn of the century – is the importance of the network interconnecting the processor. The cost of moving data is many times that of processing it and it is not possible (reasonably) to separate the core from the communications: the “computer” is the network. This has profound implications for the future of both research and teaching in this area. You can no longer develop software – however elegantly crafted and rigorously designed – and subsequently port it to the architectures of your choice. Software design at the most intimate level is now a function of the (class of) target hardware architectures.
The big wins of the next decade will come from the intimate synergy of new architectural models (networks and distributed systems) and specific language types, for example GPGPUs and CUDA, TPUs and TensorFlow, and event-based architectures. Southampton will be in the vanguard of this activity.
“I work on the POETS project, as both a computer engineer and domain specialist. POETS is a multi-institution programme about proving a point: event-based compute (with its supporting architectures) yields orders of magnitude performance improvements for key problems in engineering, resulting in immense societal and scientific impact. The breadth of expertise available in Computer Engineering at Southampton is unusual – coupled with the opportunities for growth and collaboration, the potential to create and disseminate high-impact research is considerable.
“Southampton is supportive of my career aspirations. I have been provided with considerable career and wellbeing guidance – including grant-writing courses and bespoke advice – which has helped me grow as a well-rounded academic, with the freedom and flexibility to choose my own research direction.”
Mark Vousden was appointed a Lecturer in ECS on 1 July 2022.