Susan Eggers, widely recognized as one of the leading computer architects in the field, will be the first woman to receive the Eckert-Mauchly Award in its 39-year history. She is also atypical among engineers in that she received a BA degree in Economics in 1965 and worked in related fields for 18 years before deciding to switch careers and pursue research in computer engineering. In 1983 she joined the graduate program in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley and began working toward a PhD.
Eggers’ early work focused on maintaining accurate and efficient cache coherency in shared memory processors. Beginning in the late 1980s, Eggers made significant contributions to cache coherency protocols as well as other memory-related challenges in multiprocessor computers. She performed the first data-driven study of data sharing in shared-memory multiprocessors, which greatly enhanced the field’s understanding of both hardware and software coherency techniques.
Eggers is best known for her foundational work in developing and helping to commercialize simultaneous multithreaded (SMT) processors, one of the most important advancements in computer architecture in the past 30 years. In the mid-1990s, Moore’s Law was in full swing and, while computer engineers were finding ways to fit up to 1 billion transistors on a computer chip, the increase in logic and memory alone did not result in significant performance gains. Eggers was among those who argued that increasing parallelism, or a computer’s ability to perform many calculations or processes concurrently, was the best way to realize performance gains.
From 1995 through 2003, she and her colleagues at the University of Washington developed and validated the idea of SMT as a way to increase central processing unit (CPU) performance. SMT is a technique that permits multiple independent sequences of programmed instructions (threads) to better utilize a computer’s resources by converting their thread parallelism to a simpler instruction-level parallelism. Eggers and her colleagues at the University of Washington presented several landmark papers at the International Symposium of Computer Architecture (ISCA) and other leading gatherings that demonstrated the underlying concepts, performance benefits and implementation simplicity of SMT.
Today, SMT architecture as developed by Eggers and her colleagues remains an essential component in the processors of commercial manufacturers, including Intel and IBM. Earlier in her career, she initiated technology transfer of SMT to product teams at IBM, Fujitsu, MemoryLogix and Sun Microsystems.
2018 Eckert-Mauchly Award “For outstanding contributions to simultaneous multithreaded processor architectures and multiprocessor sharing and coherency.” Learn about the Eckert-Mauchly Award