The computer science professors Josep Torrellas and Christopher Fletcher have had a fruitful collaboration with Intel for several years.

You position your research at the interface between computer architecture and security. This makes a company like Intel an effective partner. From its beginnings in semiconductor components to the latest innovations – for example in cloud computing – Intel has cemented its status as a state-of-the-art company.

Illinois CS professor Josep Torrellas (left) and Christopher Fletcher continue to work closely with Intel, this time investigating security risks as cloud computing changes elements of architecture.

This shared passion for innovation has now led to another collaboration. Fletcher and Torrellas formed a task force in August to begin work on a new proposal from the Intel University Research & Collaboration Office in the area of ​​Resilient Architectures and Robust Electronics.

For the next three years, Torrellas and Fletcher will work with Professor Mohit Tiwari at the University of Texas at Austin. The Illinois group will earn $ 145,000 a year to investigate a project titled “Multi-Domain Processors: Microarchitecture and Operating System Orchestration to Secure Hundreds of Concurrent Security Domains in Cloud and Web Workloads.”

Fletcher and Torrellas stated that cloud computing is evolving the architectural environment. Rather than relying on resource-intensive virtual machines, each emulating an entire computer system, there is a shift towards using many lightweight virtualized runtime environments, called containers, each hosting a single application or service.

However, there are security risks associated with this innovation, which researchers will work to identify and resolve.

“This is very important because projects like this open up discussions and opportunities that should be very compelling changes over the next few years,” said Torrellas. “It is important to make significant progress on a project like this now to prove that we can influence bigger changes later.”

“We’re moving towards redesigning the processor and caches so you have many lightweight security domains,” said Fletcher.

The group’s expertise extends from computer architecture to security and domain-specific acceleration. You have experience in developing secure systems.

These three researchers will work with an Intel security group that includes Carlos Rozas, Frank McKeen, and Fangfei Liu. The employees already have a working relationship with one another.

In fact, a previous fellowship that included the exact same collaboration from Intel as this began recently ended.

“Working together has been a pleasant and productive experience,” said Fletcher. “This group at Intel has a wonderful, deep understanding of what’s important in the company. There they discuss what comes next with the developers. You know what is feasible and what is not.

“Then the group is open to us so that we can help them overcome all the hurdles they encounter.”

As productive as it was working with outside academia and industry, Torrellas and Fletcher also have a proven track record of running projects like this one at Illinois CS.

Here, they said, you meet faculty colleagues and top students to ensure the successful completion of many different projects.

“I wouldn’t change that environment at Illinois CS in any way,” said Torrellas. “We have excellent colleagues willing to work together,” said Fletcher. In addition, due to the many areas of expertise among colleagues, we can tackle so many different challenges.

“Of course it also helps that we have wonderfully committed and friendly students.”

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