Exclusive UI class may be extended to other schools

By Matthew Richardson

This semester, computer engineering students at the University benefitted from a wholly unique class.

Electrical and Computer Engineering 498: Programming Massively Parallel Microprocessors was taught for the first time ever at the University this past semester. The class was taught by Wen-Mei Hwu, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Dr. David Kirk, who works for NVIDIA, a major manufacturer of microprocessors.

“I found a very good partner with Dr. Hwu,” Kirk said.

According to Kirk, most current graphics hardware run on parallel processors; and, in the past two years, computer companies have put computers on the market for commercial use that run on parallel processors.

With parallel processors, computer tasks can be done in a fraction of the time it would take for a non-parallel processor.

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“Most computers that are being built now use parallel processors,” Kirk said.

This semester 46 students took advantage of this unique opportunity, presenting their final projects for the class on Wednesday. Kirk said he was very impressed with the projects.

Kirk and Hwu are attempting to rectify the lack of universities that offer this type of course.

“We are hoping once we complete this semester, to package the materials for the class and propagate it to other universities, because we think they’ll be interested as well,” Kirk said.