News (Classic Version)

Martin Jaggi Co-chairs Applied Machine Learning Days

Posted on April 25, 2017

Martin Jaggi and fellow computer science professors Robert West and Marcel Salathé co-chaired the very first Applied Machine Learning Days at EPFL on January 30th and 31st 2017 at the SwissTech Convention Center. The event hosted more than 450 participants and gave an opportunity to industrial experts as well as academic researchers to share valuable insights on the role and future of artificial intelligence. More information on the EcoCloud co-sponsored event can be found here.

Swiss Radio and TV Station RTS 1 Hosts Martin Jaggi

Posted on April 24, 2017

Martin Jaggi was invited by the Swiss Radio and TV Station RTS 1 to discuss artificial intelligence algorithms and biases. The program in French can be found here.

2017 EcoCloud Annual Event around the Corner

Posted on April 24, 2017

Please join industry experts from HP Enterprise, Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Xilinx and EcoCloud researchers to share  insights  on future data and cloud computing platforms on June 12th and 13th, 2017 at the sixth EcoCloud annual event at the Royal Savoy Hotel in Lausanne, Switzerland. You can find more information on the event including agenda and speakers’ information here.

David Atienza Chairs a Successful DATE 2017 Conference

Posted on April 19, 2017

David Atienza chaired a very successful 20th edition of the Design Automation and Test in Europe (DATE) Conference at the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne from March 27th to 31st, 2017. The Conference, which was held in Lausanne for the first time from its traditional locations of Dresden (Germany) and Montpellier (France),  was attended by more than 1400 people from over 50 countries around the world and hosted 21 exhibiting companies.
As a co-sponsor of the event, EcoCloud held a session at the Exhibition Theatre and performed three demos at the exhibit. The session at the Exhibition Theatre focused on challenges associated with datacenter design by highlighting Cloudsuite, a performance benchmarking suite for cloud services developed at EPFL, and data protection on RDMA network on Catapult by our industrial affiliate Microsoft. The demos provided further hands-on experience and information on the topics discussed at the Exhibition Theatre which were complemented by the implementation of scale-out NUMA protocol on FPGA. You can find more information on DATE here.

Martin Jaggi Wins 2016 Google Faculty Research Award

Posted on April 11, 2017

Martin Jaggi is a recipient of the prestigious 2016 Google Faculty Research Award for his proposal on “A Computational View on Sentence Embedding”. Martin and his team will attempt “to improve the quality, the computational performance and the theoretical understanding of learning representations for sequences of words from unsupervised machine training”. You can find more information on Martin’s work here.

The Google Faculty Research Award funds “world class technical research in computer science, engineering and related fields”.

Ten Swiss Joint Research Center Projects Launch at Workshop

Posted on February 28, 2017

Researchers from EPFL, ETH Zurich and Microsoft Research – all partners of the Swiss Joint Research Center (Swiss JRC) – assembled for a workshop at the UK-based Microsoft Research Cambridge Lab in February.

During the workshop, the researchers presented the 10 projects selected for funding by the Swiss JRC steering committee. The selection was made on the basis of the projects’ intellectual merit, potential scientific and societal impact and evidence of strong collaborative interest between the project partners

Four of the projects bring together researchers from ETH Zurich and Microsoft Research. The six projects between EPFL and Microsoft Research are: Towards Resource-Efficient Data Centers; Near-Memory System Services; Coltrain: Co-located Deep Learning Training and Inference; From Companion Drones to Personal Trainers; Revisiting Transactional Computing on Modern Hardware, and Fast and Accurate Algorithms for Clustering.

Effects as Implicit Capabilities Project Receives Funding

Posted on February 6, 2017

A project aiming to investigate an approach to effect checking that is fundamentally different from previous research is to receive funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation.

To understand a program that makes use of effects – the interaction of a procedure with its environment in a way that goes beyond just taking arguments and producing a result – its execution history must be taken into account.

The central idea of the research, headed by the Programming Methods Laboratory, is to talk about capabilities instead of effects. For example, instead of saying a function “throws an IOexception”, the researchers will use the approach that the function “needs the capabilities to throw an IOException”. The research will explore the ideas of effects as capabilities in detail. On the basis of the theoretical modelization, they will develop a specification and implementation for adding effects to the programming language Scala in order to validate them. Scala, like most languages, does not currently track effects. The researchers will need to investigate how effects can be gradually migrated to an existing codebase and library ecosystem. As Scala runs on host languages such as Java or JavaScript, they will also examine how those techniques can be extended to a multi-language environment.

Funding Awarded to Big Data Programming Language Abstractions Research

Posted on February 6, 2017

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is to fund a project to research ways to better express and export fundamental programming abstractions used in the interfaces between databases and programming languages.

Scala is the programming language of choice for many of the most popular and innovative big data frameworks and is used by hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide. A general trend of increasing confluence of programming and database technologies is currently built on shaky foundations. Interfaces between programming and databases are poorly understood, hard to maintain, and not future proof.

The project, led by Martin Odersky of the Programming Methods Laboratory, will explore three orthogonal research areas. The first concerns projecting data and will involve investigating how generic programming abstractions can best be embedded in Scala. The second focuses on projecting control by embedding easy-to-use yet hard-to-abuse meta-programming techniques. The third area of research concerns distributed programming abstractions.

Swiss Radio and TV Station RTS 1 Hosts Rachid Guerraoui

Posted on January 23, 2017

Rachid Guerraoui appeared on Swiss Radio and TV RTS 1 CFQD program to discuss about algorithms.

The program, which is in French, can be found below.


EPFL’s Operating Systems Laboratory (LABOS) Receives Grant for Big Data Project

Posted on January 11, 2017

The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) has awarded a grant to a big data project at EPFL’s Operating Systems Laboratory (LABOS). Entitled “Building Flexible Large-Graph Processing Systems on Commodity Hardware”, the project aims to advance the state of the art in graph processing.

A great variety of information is naturally encoded as graphs. Large graphs are present in social networks as well as many other applications, including biology, forensics and logistics. Yet many first-generation graph processing systems are inflexible, restricting users to a particular environment and computation on static graphs.

The LABOS researchers, led by Willy Zwaenepoel, will build on their earlier work on out-of-core graph processing systems. Their project will involve building systems that scale gracefully between memory and storage and are capable of dealing with dynamic graphs. The research team also intends to further optimize out-of-core performance, in terms of both performance and capacity.

Applied Machine Learning Project Receives Funding from SNSF

Posted on January 11, 2017

EPFL’s Laboratory for Information and Inference Systems (LIONS), led by Volkan Cevher, is to receive funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for its research project “Theory and Methods for Accurate and Scalable Learning Machines”.

The project focuses on applying machine learning – the ability of computers to learn from data – to the design of the next generation of online education systems. The researchers’ goal is to automatically adapt such systems to the background, skills and learning style of students to improve the delivery of knowledge.


Jason Parker Wins 2016 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award

Posted on January 11, 2017

A two-part paper by Jason Parker from Volkan Cevher’s Laboratory for Information and Inference Systems (LIONS) at EPFL has won the 2016 IEEE Signal Processing Society Best Paper Award.

The papers, “Bilinear Generalized Approximate Message Passing – Part I: Derivation” and “Bilinear Generalized Approximate Message Passing – Part II: Applications”, were published in IEEE Transactions on Audio, Speech and Language Processing, Volume 62, N° 22 in November 2014.

The award ceremony will take place at the 2017 IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal Processing in New Orleans, USA in March.


EPFL Lab Develops ByzCoin to Accelerate Bitcoin Transactions

Posted on January 9, 2017

EPFL’s Decentralized and Distributed Systems Laboratory under Bryan Ford has developed an innovative and effective solution to counter delays, inconsistencies and attacks encountered by users of the increasingly popular virtual currency Bitcoin.

Dubbed ByzCoin, the solution is inspired by protocols such as Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT). It is based on the idea that an active group of Bitcoin miners using novel cryptographic algorithms work collectively on the transaction blocks that, once verified, are added to the blockchain – the bitcoin network’s public ledger. The miners would only require the approval of two-thirds of other members of their group for each transaction to be processed.

This approach would guarantee a higher level of consistency within the blockchain and allow transactions to be irreversibly confirmed within seconds. Accelerated confirmation would mitigate dishonest practices such as double spending and selfish mining.

Baris Kasikci Receives Award for PhD Thesis

Posted on January 9, 2017

Baris Kasikci has received the Patrick Denantes Memorial Prize 2016 for his PhD thesis Techniques for Detection, Root Cause Diagnosis, and Classification of In-Production Concurrency Bugs.

Concurrency bugs are at the heart of some of the worst software bugs. They can slow down software development by weeks or even months, as they are difficult to identify and fix.

Baris’ thesis introduces techniques to automatically detect concurrency bugs during production and identify the root causes of in-production failures – particularly those caused by concurrency bugs. It also explores a technique that automatically classifies a data race based on its potential consequence.

The thesis was developed in EPFL’s Dependable Systems Laboratory under George Candea. A toolchain built to implement the techniques demonstrated their effectiveness, accuracy and precision.

David Kozhaya Wins Best Presentation Award

Posted on January 9, 2017

Doctoral student David Kozhaya received the Best Presentation Award at the IEEE International Real-Time System Symposium in Portugal in December 2016.

David’s presentation was based on his paper “Right On Time Distributed Shared Memory”, which he co-authored with Rachid Guerraoui – who heads the Distributed Programming Laboratory – and ABB corporate researcher Yvonne-Anne Pignolet-Oswald.

The paper explores the construction of a shared memory abstraction as a first step towards satisfying the growing demand for real-time data storage in distributed control systems (DCSs). Real-time DCS guarantees is particularly challenging as more and more sensor and actuator devices are connected to industrial plants and message loss must be taken into account. Find out more here.

Georgios Chatzopoulos Wins Best Paper Award

Posted on January 9, 2017

Georgios Chatzopoulos, a student from EPFL’s Distributed Programming Laboratory, received the Best Paper Award at the 17th ACM/IFIP/USENIX International Middleware Conference in Italy in December 2016.

The winning paper, “Locking Made Easy”, presents GLS, a middleware designed to simplify and increase the efficiency of lock-based programming, which protects shared data from concurrent accesses.

GLS is based on the generic lock algorithm GLK. It offers debugging options for detecting various lock-related issues such as deadlocks. Rachid’s team evaluated GLS and GLK on two modern hardware platforms, using several software systems. They demonstrated how GLK improves performances of the systems by an average 23% compared to their default locking strategies.

EcoCloud Professor Volkan Cevher Awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Posted on December 27, 2016

EcoCloud professor Volkan Cevher has received an ERC Consolidator Grant for his research proposal “Time-Data Trade-Offs in High-Dimensional Statistical Learning via Convex Optimization”.

Computational power is growing slowly in relation to data sizes; consequently, large-scale problems require a long time to solve. Volkan’s research will explore and build on an emerging perspective that holds that data should be treated as a resource to be traded off with other resources, such as running time.

It is the first research project that aims to establish time-data trade-offs while characterizing their optimality. It is expected to change the way data is treated in statistical sciences and promises substantial computational flexibility for data-driven learning.

Volkan Cevher’s biography is available here.

EcoCloud Professor David Atienza Awarded ERC Consolidator Grant

Posted on December 27, 2016

EcoCloud professor David Atienza has received an ERC Consolidator Grant for his research proposal “COMPUSAPIEN: Computing Server Architecture with Joint Power and Cooling Integration at the Nanoscale”.

COMPUSAPIEN’s focus is the design of a three-dimensional computing server inspired by the mammalian brain. The project will involve developing and integrating breakthrough innovations in heterogeneous computing architecture, cooling-power subsystem design, combined microfluidic power delivery and temperature management in computers.

The integrated electronic-electrochemical design is expected to result in drastic energy savings and guarantee energy scalability in future server architectures.

David Atienza’s biography is available here.

EcoCloud Newsletter October 2016

Posted on October 21, 2016

We move towards the end of 2016 with pride, gratitude and optimism. The recent funding of several of our projects acknowledges the value of our work and allows us to go even further in our quest to drive innovation. We have also had the pleasure of welcoming another great talent to our faculty, while a leading global provider of ICT solutions has joined our Industrial Affiliates Program. You’ll find details of all this and more in our roundup of news, which we hope you’ll enjoy reading here.

EPFL Cyber Security Startup Raises more than $2 Million in Funding

Posted on September 7, 2016

Cyberhaven, a cyber security startup founded by Professor George Candea and some of his students, has raised more than $2 millions in the first round of financing to bring simplicity and strength to enterprise security. The company pledges to protect enterprise clients from malware, malicious insiders, and social engineering. The technology, which was developed at EPFL DSLAB over seven years, has been validated in the market as well as through open-source projects. For more information on Cyberhaven, please click here.

EcoCloud Projects Receive Microsoft’s Funding

Posted on September 7, 2016

Four EcoCloud projects received funding from Microsoft as part of the Joint Research Center between EPFL, ETH, and Microsoft. The projects include “Near-Memory System Services” by Babak Falsafi, “Co-located Deep Learning Training and Inference” by Babak Falsafi and Martin Jaggi, “Revisiting Transactional Computing on Modern Hardware” by Rachid Guerraoui, and “Toward Resource-Efficient Data Centers” by Florin Dinu. Pascal Fua  and Michael Kapralov from IC also received funding for their projects. This round of the Joint Research Center also funded 4 projects from ETH.

Babak Falsafi Guest-Stars at CompuCast

Posted on June 6, 2016

Babak Falsafi featured on the CompuCast podcast on June 2nd, 2016. CompuCast is a podcast about computer science by computer scientists. You can find the podcast here.

John Thome Receives the Prestigious Nusselt-Reynolds Prize

Posted on May 23, 2016

John Thome won the Nusselt-Reynolds Prize for outstanding contribution in the field of “experimentation, visualisation and modelling of macro- and micro-scale two-phase flow and two-phase heat transfer, application of this science to the development of new thermal technologies of industrial importance, and for the broad dissemination of this work to the engineering community in five authored books”. The prize is bestowed for outstanding scientific and engineering contributions and eminent achievements in the fields of heat transfer, fluid mechanics and thermodynamics

John is an outstanding researcher who has contributed significantly to field of two-phase flow and heat transfer. You can find more information on John’s research here.

John Thome to Moderate ITHERM 2016 Panel

Posted on May 23, 2016

John Thome will moderate the ITHERM 2016 Panel on “Micro-Two-Phase Liquid Cooling Systems for Electronics” on June 1st, 2016 at the ITHERM 2016 Conference in Las Vegas. The distinguished panelists include Dr. David Copeland (Oracle), Dr. Thomas Brunschwiler (IBM), Dr. Todd Salamon (Nokia/Bell Labs), Dr. Abhinav Dixit (Eaton), Dr. Soheil Farshchian, and Dr. Jackson Marcinichen (EPFL) who will discuss the challenges and concerns associated with two-phase cooling. For more information on the panel, please visit the ITHERM 2016 webpage.

Pinar Tozun Receives the ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation honorable mention award

Posted on May 23, 2016

Pinar Tozun received an honourable mention from the ACM SIGMOD Jim Gray Doctoral Dissertation Award Committee for her thesis on “Transactions Chasing Scalability and Instruction Locality on Multicores”.

Pinar Tozun is a Research Staff Member at IBM Almaden Research Center since January 2015. In November 2014, she received her PhD degree from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne working under the supervision of Prof. Anastasia Ailamaki in Data-Intensive Applications and Systems Laboratory. Her research focuses on scalability and efficiency of data management systems on modern hardware. Pinar was an intern at Oracle Labs (Redwood Shores, CA) during summer 2012. Before starting her PhD, she received her BSc degree in Computer Engineering department of Koc University in 2009.

Baris Kasikci Receives the Eurosys Roger Needham PhD Dissertation Award

Posted on May 20, 2016

Baris Kasikci received the Eurosys Roger Needham PhD Dissertation Award for his Ph.D. dissertation on “Techniques for Detection, Root Cause Diagnosis and Classification of In-Production Concurrency Bugs​”. The award is given for exceptional and innovative contribution to knowledge in systems areas for doctoral students in European Universities.

Baris graduated from the Ph.D. program at EPFL under the guidance of George Candea in the Dependable Systems Lab. His research was centered around building techniques, tools, and environments that will ultimately help developers build more reliable software. He is interested in finding solutions that will allow programmers to debug their code in an easier way. In this regard, he strives to find efficient ways to deal with concurrency bugs in general, and data races in particular.

Jim Larus Receives the EuroSys Test of Time Award

Posted on May 20, 2016

Jim Larus along with his co-authors Manuel Fahndrich, Mark Aiken, Chris Hawblitzel, Orion Hodson, Galen Hunt, Steven Levi received the EuroSys Test of Time Award for their EuroSys 2006 paper: Language support for Fast and Reliable Message-based Communication in Singularity OS. The paper describes “language, verification, and run-time system features that make messages practical as the sole means of communication between processes in the Singularity operating system”.

Jim Larus is the Dean of the Computer Science Department at EPFL. His research focuses on the hardware and software challenges associated with very large scale systems. For more information on Jim’s research, please visit

Katerina Argyraki Wins 2nd Eurosys Jochen Liedtke Young Researcher Award

Posted on May 20, 2016

Professor Katerina Argyraki, Tenure Track Assistant Professor and head of the Network Architecture Lab, has won the 2nd Eurosys Jochen Liedtke Young Researcher Award for outstanding contribution in the field of computer science. Katerina is the 2nd EcoCloud and Computer Science faculty member at EPFL to receive this award since its inception after George Candea received the very first award last year.

Katerina Argyraki’s research  is on fundamental questions on the design and building of dependable network systems including the type of functionality and implementation deployed within these systems. For more information on Katerina’s research, please visit

Integrating CloudSuite into Perfkit

Posted on April 26, 2016

Babak Falsafi has received funding from Google to integrate Cloudsuite into Perfkit. Perfkit is an open source framework for measuring cloud performance from Google. The framework contains automated benchmarking tools that allow for practical benchmarking at scale. Integrating Cloudsuite into Perfkit will enable measuring representative benchmark metrics and allowing for rapid, effective and practical benchmarking at scale. In an interview with Google Cloud Performance Blog, Javier Picorel, explains: “We believe that PerfKit Benchmarker (PKB) is a step towards the standardization of cloud benchmarking. In essence, we envision PKB as the “SPEC for cloud-server systems.” You can find more information on the blog here.

HW/SW Co-Design for Scalable Transactional Processing

Posted on April 26, 2016

Anastasia Ailamaki will investigate the potentials of hardware/software co-design for efficient utilization of micro-architectural resources in collaboration with Huawei. Past research has shown that that DBMSs severely under-utilize their micro-architectural resources with more than 50% of the CPU cycles going for memory stalls and the number of retired instructions per cycle barely reaching one on machines that are able to retire four instructions per cycle. Pure software-level optimizations are not enough to fully exploit the micro-architectural resources. This under-utilization limits the performance of DBMSs and leads to poor energy efficiency. The goal of the project is to reconsider the design of OLTP systems by making the utilization of micro-architectural resources the highest priority so as to achieve high throughput, low latency, hardware utilization and better energy efficiency.

Exploring Manycore Architectures for Next-Generation HPC systems

Posted on April 26, 2016

David Atienza, our affiliate Eaton and several European partners received Horizon-2020 funding to explore future HPC platforms. The project, named MANGO, aims at achieving extreme resource efficiency in future QoS-sensitive HPC workloads through ambitious cross- layer system exploration for better performance/power/predictability. The system architecture will be inherently heterogeneous as an enabler for efficiency and application- based customization, where general-purpose compute nodes are intertwined with heterogeneous acceleration nodes, linked by a homogeneous interconnect.

Consortium to Define European’s Roadmap for HPC

Posted on April 26, 2016

David Atienza and Babak Falsafi are members of a European-wide consortium to define a vision for the future of HPC, to bring together research communities from future and emerging platform technologies to data analytic, management and simulation tools for users, and to create a foundation for a center of excellence in high-performance computing in Europe. The consortium is led by Chalmers University and includes partners from U. of Augsburg, BSC in Barcelona, Edinburgh, ETH, FORTH in Crete, Ghent, INRIA, University of Manchester, RWTH in Aachen, Technion and University of Stuttgart.

Research Testbeds from Intel and Micron

Posted on April 26, 2016

EPFL is the lucky recipient of one of twenty Intel-Altera Heterogeneous Architecture Research Platform (HARP). The HARP system contains an “Intel microprocessor and an Altera Stratix® V FPGA module that incorporates Intel® QuickAssist Technology”. Our group has also acquired an FPGA-enhanced Hybrid Memory Cube platform from Micron. The HMC system is Linux based and comes with two Xilinx AC-510 modules each with a 4GB HMC. These platforms will be used by EcoCloud researchers to develop accelerators for server platforms and serve as a hardware prototyping substrate for research on architectural mechanisms for in-memory rack-scale computing.

Query Optimization on D-Wave

Posted on April 26, 2016

Immanuel Trummer has been pioneering novel multi-objective query optimization paradigms with award winning results through incremental algorithms, randomized algorithms, and parallel processing. He is now turning his focus onto less conventional platforms, namely quantum computers, to truly put a dent into the topic. “Our recent access to a D-Wave 2X adiabatic quantum annealer with over 1000 qubits at NASA Ames Research Center enabled us to experimentally evaluate the potential of quantum computing for solving optimization problems that arise in large-scale data analysis” he says. Quantum computers harness the laws of quantum physics for computation exploring multiple computational paths at the same time and solving search problems that are otherwise impractical in scale on conventional platforms. Immanuel’s preliminary results indicate speedups of up to four orders of magnitude compared to traditional approaches for multiple query optimizations.

NoDB & RAW Labs in the News

Posted on April 26, 2016

Ioannis Alagiannis’ research on “NoDB: Efficient Query Execution on Raw Data Files” featured as a CACM research highlight. CACM selects a few contributions among the best in computer science for publication as a research highlight. The paper presents a new paradigm, called data virtualization, which enables querying data in-situ with all the features of modern databases without the burden of loading the data into a database. You can find more information on the article here. Anastasia Ailamaki also featured in WORK magazine on presenting RAW Labs, an EPFL startup that designs software for big data applications “through efficient queries to never-before-seen data, we aim at maximizing efficiency of analytics applications and enabling new discoveries for sciences, businesses, and their users”. You can read the article that appears in French here.

Failure Sketching in Industrial Toolchains

Posted on April 26, 2016

Baris Kasikci’s and his collaborators at Intel and Microsoft have made a splash in the world of software development! Software complexity is now a major concern not only due to the emergence of multicores a decade ago but also the slowdown in silicon efficiency pushing platforms and software to heterogeneity. Baris’ proposal, “failure sketching” is an automated debugging technique that provides developers with an explanation (i.e., a failure sketch) of the root cause of a failure that occurs in execution. These results, which appeared in the flagship conference USENIX in 2015, are getting integrated in software toolchains at Intel.

Encyclopedia of Two-Phase Heat Transfer & Flow

Posted on April 26, 2016

The encyclopedia of two-phase heat transfer and two-phase flow is now available in eight volumes. The encyclopedia is the first comprehensive summary of the fundamentals of two- phase flows, heat transfer mechanisms, and cooling. The latter technology has been pioneered by our own John Thome, the editor-in-chief of the encyclopedia, and is emerging as the only viable approach to heat removal in future high-density server platforms. You can find more information on the encyclopedia here. There will be a first-hand demo of two- phase liquid cooling in a server rack at our annual event.

EcoCloud Sponsored Workshop on Reconfigurable Computing

Posted on April 26, 2016

coCloud sponsored a workshop on “Reconfigurable Computing for the Masses” at the FPL Conference in London on September 4th, 2015. The workshop hosted many distinguished speakers from academia and industry to discuss the recent trends and challenges of using FPGAs to accelerate computing tasks in embedded and server platforms. More information including the workshop’s material is available here.

CloudSuite 3.0 released at HiPEAC

Posted on April 26, 2016

Cloudsuite 3.0 was released at the 2016 HiPEAC Conference in Prague in January. The third version is a major enhancement over prior releases both in workloads and infrastructure. It includes benchmarks that represent massive data manipulation with tight latency constraints such as in-memory data analytics using Apache Spark, a new real-time video streaming benchmark following today’s most popular video-sharing website setups, and a new web serving benchmark mirroring today’s multi-tier web server software stacks with a caching layer. To facilitate deployment, the benchmarks are integrated into the Docker container system and Google’s PerfKit Benchmarker. PerfKit enables automated benchmarking and a performance comparison across a broad spectrum of cloud server systems. CloudSuite 3.0 will run on both real hardware and a QEMU based emulation platform. There is a tutorial scheduled for EuroSys in London for those interested. For further info on CloudSuite 3.0 please visit the website.

A Swisscom Digital Lab at EPFL

Posted on April 26, 2016

EcoCloud’s affiliate Swisscom just signed a strategic partnership with EPFL to establish a Swisscom Digital Lab at the EPFL Innovation Park. Swisscom will invest CHF 1M per year for seven years in research activities ranging from applications and software to infrastructure with specific focus on interconnected people and homes. Swisscom will also support the innovative ecosystem at EPFL by organizing events related to digitalization on campus. EcoCloud is delighted about the arrival of Swisscom on campus and looks forward to strengthening our research collaborations with them.

EcoCloud Newsletter January 2016

Posted on January 28, 2016

Welcome to this edition of EcoCloud’s electronic newsletter. This edition of the newsletter can be found here.

This year we are proud to announce that our faculty have been recognized by the leading professional organizations with high distinctions for their contributions to computer science and engineering, our students not only have won prestigious awards but have transferred their innovations to our affiliates, and our family of faculty and affiliates has grown with the addition of two accomplished professors and a leading company in storage solutions. We hope that you will enjoy browsing through this newsletter and wish everyone a productive successful 2016!

David Atienza Named IEEE Fellow

Posted on December 16, 2015

David Atienza was named IEEE Fellow for his contributions in design methods and tools in multiprocessor systems on chip effective January 1st 2016. “The IEEE Grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement.” “David Atienza receives this recognition for his sustained and outstanding contributions in the areas of thermal-aware design, hardware-software co-optimization methodologies for wireless body sensor nodes and low-power multi-core system architectures.” David is an associate professor of electrical engineering at EPFL. He is also a member of the EcoCloud Executive Committee.

Anastasia Ailamaki and Babak Falsafi Named ACM Fellows

Posted on December 16, 2015

Anastasia Ailamaki and Babak Falsafi were named ACM Fellows. Fellowship is ACM most prestigious award given to the top 1% of ACM members for their outstanding contributions in computing and information technologies. According to ACM, this year’s awardees’ achievements “are fueling advances in computing that are driving the growth of the global digital economy.” Anastasia Ailamaki, a professor of computer science at EPFL, received her award for outstanding contribution to the design, implementation, and evaluation of modern database systems. Her research interests are in database systems and applications including strengthening the interaction between the database software and emerging hardware and I/O devices and automating database management to support computationally demanding and data-intensive scientific applications. She is also a founding member of EcoCloud.


Babak Falsafi receives his award for outstanding contributions to multiprocessor and memory architecture design and evaluation. Babak is a professor of computer science at EPFL working on architectural innovation to address emerging challenges in the design and performance-scalability of future computer systems. Babak is also the founder and director of EcoCloud and a member of its executive committee. You can find more information on ACM 2015 Fellows here.

George Prekas and Immanuel Trummer Win the Google Fellowship Award

Posted on June 15, 2015

George Prekas and Immanuel Trummer have won the Google European Doctoral Fellowship award that “recognizes and support outstanding graduate students doing exceptional work in Computer cience and related disciplines.”

George Prekas’ research interest is in energy efficient resource control for datacenter applications with high-throughput and low-latency requirements.

Immanuel Trummer’s research focuses mainly on different variants of the multi-objective query optimization problem where the goal is to strike a good balance between conflicting cost metrics in query processing.

EcoCloud Newsletter May 2015

Posted on May 29, 2015

Welcome to this edition of EcoCloud’s electronic newsletter. This edition of the newsletter can be found here.

The EcoCloud Annual Event will be held on June 22nd and 23rd at Lausanne Palace. This year’s event features an exciting lineup of EcoCloud and industrial speakers and presenters. In this newsletter, we are also delighted to announce two additions to our Industrial Affiliate Program, a new EcoCloud faculty member expanding our research portfolio in energy management, and the latest news on our research, accomplishments and outreach.

DSL Summer School at EPFL

Posted on May 11, 2015

We are pleased to announce the first Summer School on DSL Design and Implementation  from July 12th  to July 17th, 2015 at EPFL. The summer school is an opportunity for students to interact and learn from leading experts in the field of Domain Specific Languages.

The covered topics will include:

 – DSL design and implementation
 – Dynamic Compilation
 – Languages and databases
 – Reconfigurable computing
 – Heterogeneous backends


Lectures will be followed by hands-on sessions where students will work with state-of-the-art tools and technologies.

The summer school is open to any MSc/PhD student having an interest in the field. The student should have some basic knowledge of the field. An undergraduate compiler course is a plus. For more information, please click on the link above.

Tudor David Wins the VMware Fellowship Award for 2015-2016

Posted on March 12, 2015

Tudor David, a PhD student working with Rachid Guerraoui in the Distributed Programming Lab, has won the prestigious VMware Graduate Fellowship for the 2015-2016 academic year. The VMware fellowships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing research related to VMware’s business interests which include core machine virtualization and cloud computing.

Tudor is doing research on concurrent search data-structure and message-passing agreement on many-cores.

Manos Karpathiotakis wins the IBM Fellowship Award

Posted on March 12, 2015

Manos Karpathiotakis is a 2015-2016 winner of the prestigious IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award. The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is a worldwide competitive program, which honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in many academic disciplines and areas of study. Award Recipients are selected based on their overall potential for research excellence, and their academic progress to-date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor and department head.

Manos is from the Data Intensive Applications and Systems Lab under Professor Anastasia Ailamaki. His primary research  is on database systems. Please visit his homepage for more information on Manos’ research.

Clouds, Datacenters & the Future of IT

Posted on March 5, 2015

EcoCloud’s article on “Clouds, Datacenters & the Future of IT” appeared in French under the title “Cloud, datacenters et l’avenir de l’informatique” on page 14 of an insert by SmartMedia in L’Hebdo #5 “Semaine du 29 Janvier 2015”. The French article can be found here. Please find below the English version of the article.


Clouds, Datacenters & the Future of IT

Information technology (IT) has been undergoing a data-centric revolution in recent years in which enterprises, governments, and research organizations alike use analytics on massive data to extract information and monetize data to improve their practices, products, and services. Data now lies at the core of the supply chain for both products and services in modern economies. Analyzing text and documents online has led to groundbreaking advances in language technologies and has enabled investment banks to identify financial trends. Graph analytics can help uncover insights in applications as broad as social media, telecommunications, healthcare, and utilities. Data-intensive scientific discovery now complements theoretical, empirical, and simulation-driven science as a fourth paradigm for scientific discovery.

Today, data-centric IT services, also referred to as cloud services, are provided with centralized infrastructure called datacenters to maximize resource sharing and exploit economies of scale. In contrast to supercomputers aimed at the high-cost/high-performance scientific domain, datacenters consist of volume servers aiming at cost-effective data processing, communication and storage. Datacenter owners prioritize capital and operating costs over ultimate performance. While larger organizations are consolidating their IT infrastructure and services into privately owned clouds to guarantee data ownership, confidentiality and privacy, many are opting for public clouds primarily due to economic reasons forgoing legal implications and data governance.

The exponential growth in IT in recent years has led to unprecedented demands on datacenters worldwide. In 2013, Amazon Web Services added daily enough server capacity to support all of Amazon’s global infrastructure in 2003 when it was a $5.2 billon annual revenue enterprise, according to its VP, James Hamilton. IDC projects that data will reach 40 zettabytes by 2020 (equivalent to 100 iPads for every woman, man and child in 2020). This growth in data surpasses by far the exponential improvements in digital platform capabilities enabled by the conventional semiconductor fabrication technologies in the past four decades. The semiconductor fabrication technologies have now hit fundamental physical barriers with economic, energy and environmental repercussions necessitating fundamental research and ground breaking new solutions to enable a continued growth in IT.

The future of IT is of key strategic relevance not only to the world at large but also Switzerland and European countries whose economies are primarily innovation- and service-based and are highly dependent on data-centric IT. Moreover, as a top spender of IT per capita and with a mandate to minimize its energy footprint by 2050, Switzerland must invest in large-scale IT infrastructure for both sustainability and digital sovereignty.


Ecocloud contributes to Google PerfKit benchmarker, a new open source cloud performance measuring tool

Posted on February 23, 2015

EcoCloud is one of several academic or industrial institutions that contributed to the new Google Perfkit benchmarker, an open source tool to measure cloud performance. The tool will help collaborate on a set of benchmarks and already include common cloud workloads including workloads from the CloudSuite benchmark developed at EPFL. For more information on Perfkit, please click here.

Katerina Argyraki is awarded SNFS/ERC Starting Grant

Posted on February 5, 2015

The Swiss National Science Foundation has awarded Katerina Argyraki the ERC Starting Grant for her research on adapting and “evolving network functionality with the needs of its users and operators” through virtual data plane.

Martin Odersky Wins the 2014 Swiss ICT Award

Posted on November 10, 2014

Martin Odersky received the 2014 Swiss ICT Special Award for his development of Scala, a platform-independent, scalable programming language. According to the award committee, Martin is “representative of the innovative force and successful commercialisation of research projects in the industry in the best traditions of Swiss universities.”

Karl Aberer Receives WISE 2014 best paper Award

Posted on November 10, 2014

Alexandra Olteanu, Anne-Marie Kermarrec and Karl Aberer received the 2014 best paper award from the Web Information System Engineering (WISE) for his paper on “Comparing the Predictive Capability of Social and Interest Affinity for Recommendations”. The paper highlights the importance of social affinity (how well connected are people on a social graph) as a predictor of user’s taste as compared to interest affinity (how similarity users rate or how items are rated).

EcoCloud Newsletter October 2014

Posted on October 21, 2014


Welcome to EcoCloud’s Electronic Newsletter! We are pleased to announce that EcoCloud Newsletter will be semiannual henceforth. This edition of the newsletter can be found here.

In this issue, you will learn about new additions to our team, the latest about our research, accomplishments and outreach, and our visiting scholars this year. Last but not least, we are truly excited to announce in this newsletter the arrival of EcoCloud’s new Deputy Director.

IEEE Micro Big Data Guest Editors’ Introduction By Babak Falsafi and Boris Grot

Posted on September 5, 2014

Professors Babak Falsafi from EPFL and Boris Grot from University of Edinburgh have highlighted the challenges and opportunities of system designs in the era of Big Data in the IEEE Micro July/August 2014  edition. You can find the link to the introduction below:


Edouard Bugnion named Adjunct Professor by “Le Conseil des EPF”

Posted on July 14, 2014

Edouard Bugnion, co-founder of VMware and Nuova Systems (acquired by Cisco), was named Adjunct Professor in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences (IC) by “Le Conseil Des EPF”. Professor Bugnion joined EPFL in 2012. His research is focused in Data Center Systems including scale-out NUMA, domain-specifc operating systems and virtual data planes.

George Candea wins 1st Eurosys Jochen Liedtke Young Researcher Award

Posted on July 4, 2014

Professor George Candea, Associate Professor and head of the Dependable Systems Lab, has won the 1st Eurosys Jochen Liedtke Young Researcher Award for outstanding contribution in the field of computer science.

George Candea’s research  is on practical ways of achieving reliability and security in complex software systems. His main focus is on real-world large-scale systems, with hundreds of threads and millions of lines of code written by hundreds of programmers—going from a small program to a large system introduces fundamental challenges that cannot be addressed with the techniques that work at small scale. For more information, please visit

Onur Kocberber Wins the Google Ph.D Fellowship Award

Posted on July 2, 2014

Onur Kocberber from the PARSA Lab has won the  Google Ph.D Fellowship award fro 2014-2015. The Google European Doctoral Fellowship is awarded to outstanding doctoral students doing exceptional research in Computer Science or closely related areas.

Onur Kocberber’s main interest is in computer systems. His research is centered on server system architecture, particularly focusing on on-chip accelerators for database systems to improve the performance and energy efficiency of server processors. He is the release co-manager of CloudSuite and a co-developer of the Flexus simulation framework.  Visit his homepage for more information.

Cansu Kaynak Wins the Prestigious Anita Borg Scholarship Award

Posted on July 2, 2014

Cansu Kaynak from the PARSA Lab has won the prestigious Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship Award for 2014-2015. The Anita Borg Memorial Scholarship “encourages women to excel in computing and technology, and become active role models and leaders in this field.”

The Scholarship is awarded to women who demonstrate leadership, strong academic credentials, and passion for increasing women’s involvement in computer sciences.

Cansu is mainly interested in computer architecture. Her research is centered around server system architecture, particularly focusing on memory system design to bridge the performance gap between processor and memory. To this end, she has been exploring ways to predict memory activity to proactively move instructions and data closer to the processor to hide the memory access latency from the processor. Please visit her homepage for more information on Cansu’s research.

Ioannis Alagiannis Wins One of the Three Prestigious Symantec Fellowship Awards

Posted on May 6, 2014

Ioannis Alagiannis from the Data-Intensive Applications and Systems Laboratory (DIAS), has won the prestigious Symantec Fellowship award. Ioannis is the only European winner this year. The Symantec Fellowship Program  funds innovative research with real world-value in areas where Symantec conducts businesses from outstanding Ph.D. Students around the world.
Ioannis is mainly interested in adaptive query processing and big data exploration. His research is focused on designing novel database architectures that can cope with the recent data explosion. To this end, he redesigns database architectures to perform query processing on raw data files (in situ), aiming at eliminating any unnecessary upfront database preparation cost, providing efficient access to data from heterogeneous storage platforms and efficiently accommodate ad-hoc and exploratory workloads.

Cansu Kaynak Wins IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award

Posted on March 17, 2014

Cansu Kaynak, a PhD student at the Parallel Systems Architecture Lab (PARSA), directed by Prof. Babak Falsafi, received a prestigious and highly competitive IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Award. The IBM Ph.D. Fellowship Awards Program is an intensely competitive worldwide program, which honors exceptional Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in many academic disciplines and areas of study.

Award Recipients are selected based on their overall potential for research excellence, and their academic progress to-date, as evidenced by publications and endorsements from their faculty advisor and department head. The program also supports their long-standing commitment to workforce diversity. IBM values diversity in the workplace and encourages nominations of women, minorities and all who contribute to that diversity.

Cansu is mainly interested in computer architecture. Her research is centered around server system architecture, particularly focusing on memory system design to bridge the performance gap between processor and memory. To this end, she has been exploring ways to predict memory activity to proactively move instructions and data closer to the processor to hide the memory access latency from the processor. Please visit her homepage for more information on Cansu’s research.

EPFL’s Paper in IEEE Micro Top Picks

Posted on February 20, 2014

The 2014 issue of the IEEE Micro’s Top Picks from the Computer Architecture Conferences will feature Clearing the Clouds, a paper conducted with the researchers of PARSA and DIAS labs directed by Prof. Babak Falsafi and Prof. Anastasia Ailamaki, respectively, as one of the most influential papers in computer architecture. According to Journal Citation Reports, IEEE Micro has on of the highest impact factors among computer science magazines.

Baris Kasikci Receives VMware Fellowship

Posted on January 18, 2014

Baris Kasikci, a PhD student working with George Candea, was selected as one of four recipients of the prestigious VMware Graduate Fellowship for the academic year 2014/2015.

The fellowships are awarded to outstanding students pursuing research related to VMware’s business interests which include core machine virtualization and cloud computing. This is the first time EPFL is eligible for these fellowships and Baris is our first winner.

Before starting his PhD, Baris worked as a software engineer for four years, mainly developing real time embedded systems software. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey in 2006 and 2009, respectively. His research is centered around building techniques, tools, and environments that will ultimately help developers build more reliable software. He is interested in finding solutions that will allow programmers to debug their code in an easier way. In this regard, he strives to find efficient ways to deal with concurrency bugs in general, and data races in particular.

Meet the Walkers

Posted on December 20, 2013

Onur Koçberber, Boris Grot, Javier Picorel and Prof. Babak Falsafi of EcoCloud along with co-authors, were honored with the Best Paper Runner-Up award for their paper titled “Meet the Walkers” at the 46th International Symposium on Microarchitecture (MICRO-46). Micro is the premier forum for presenting, discussing, and debating innovative microarchitecture ideas and techniques for advanced computing and communication systems. This year MICRO was particularly competitive because it had an acceptance rate of only 16%. Read the full article here.

EcoCloud’s 3rd Annual Newsletter

Posted on December 18, 2013

Welcome to EcoCloud’s third annual electronic newsletter! A full version of the newsletter is available here.

In this issue, we are delighted to report EcoCloud’s achievements last year and what is new in 2014. We have new faculty members in our community bringing a wealth of knowledge, research and industrial expertise, over half a dozen projects spanning from data analytics to green infrastructure, and a number of prestigious awards by EcoCloud researchers, making 2013 a fantastic year. Besides these accomplishments including research highlights covered in international media, we also hosted collaborators and researchers from peer institutions in our Visiting Scholars program.

This year, our annual event will be on June 5th and 6th, 2014 in Lausanne Palace. We look forward to seeing you there.

Ailamaki Wins an ERC Grant

Posted on November 21, 2013

EcoCloud professor, Anastasia Ailamaki, is a winner of EU’s Consolidator ERC Grant in 2013. The grants “support researchers in consolidating their own independent research team or program and strengthen independent and excellent new individual research teams that have been recently created.” With project ViDa, Anastasia will be pioneering Big Data technologies that defy data deluge by enabling efficient queries on raw heterogeneous data, obviating the need to pre-format or load the data into a database. Anastasia’s ERC Consolidator Grant will be fully funded at a level of 2M Euros over five years. With Anastasia, EcoCloud now boasts a total of six current and seven in total faculty members who have received ERC Grants.

School on Data-Centric Systems

Posted on October 5, 2013

With ever growing demands on more efficient and cost-effective processing, communication and storage of data, the software and hardware technologies to help develop parallel, robust and efficient servers and data centers are going through major transformations. The CUSO Winter School on Data-Centric Systems in collaboration with EcoCloud will cover a series of lectures from internationally-recognized experts on emerging software and hardware technologies at the intersection of Big Data and efficiency.

Guerraoui Wins an ERC Grant

Posted on September 17, 2013

EcoCloud professor, Rachid Guerraoui, is one of the winners of EU’s Advanced ERC Grants in 2013. ERC Advanced Grants “allow exceptional established research leaders to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains.” Rachid will be pioneering technologies for robust cloud computing with this new project titled “Adversary-Oriented Computing” targeting a division of software into components that individually implement a specific “adversarial” strategy and can be designed, implemented, verified, tested and debugged independantly. ERC Advanced Grants are funded at a level of 2M Euros over five years. With Rachid, EcoCloud now boasts a total of five current and six in total faculty members who have received ERC Grants.

Atienza Wins IEEE’s Early Career Award

Posted on August 20, 2013

David Atienza is the recipient of the  2013 IEEE CEDA Early Career Award for his contributions to the area of design methods and tools for multiprocessor system-on-chip architectures, particularly for work on thermal-aware design, low-power architectures and on-chip interconnect synthesis. The award honors “an individual who has made innovative and substantial technical contributions to the area of Electronic Design Automation in the early stages of his or her career.”

This is the first time this award is given outside the USA. Prof Atienza will be given his prize at the inaugural ceremony of IEEE/ACM 32nd International Conference on Computer-Aided Design (ICCAD) in San Jose, CA, USA, in November 2013. David is also the first recepient of the ACM SIGDA Outstanding New Faculty Award in 2012, also the first given outside North America.

Technology to Revolutionize Cooling

Posted on July 27, 2013

With diminishing levels in silicon design efficiency (aka the slowdown in Dennard Scaling), cooling has taken center stage in server innovation to enable both designs that can dissipate higher levels of power to improve server performance and to improve cooling efficiency to reduce the Total Cost of Ownership, a metric that big datacenter owners strive to optimize. EcoCloud’s John Thome is a pioneer in two-phase liquid cooling in servers, where cooling liquid is circulated in two phases to improve heat removal efficiency while requiring a lower flow rate (for lower operation cost) and enabling better temperature uniformity across the chip. In collaboration with Jackson Marcinichen, they have recently invented two-phase cooling at the chip level for maximum efficiency. Their technology is showcased on the cover of Electronics Cooling, a high-profile magazine dedicated to thermal management in electronics industry.

Intel Fellowships 2013

Posted on July 15, 2013

We are delighted to announce that Vitaly Chipounov and Djordje Jevdjic are recipients of this year’s Intel Doctoral Fellowships.

EcoCloud is now four for four in nomination and winning of the Intel Fellowships since the program started in Europe, with two Intel Fellowships winners last year, Pejman Lotfi-Kamran and Cristian Zamfir.

The award letter states that “This was a highly competitive process with many outstanding quality applicants across several universities and exciting areas of research”. The awardees will gather at the Intel ERIC conference in October for a reception ceremony.

Congratulations to Vitaly and Djordje!

EcoCloud’s Second Year

Posted on May 27, 2013

This year’s program includes a keynote entitled “Big Data is (at least) Four Different Problems” by the database visionary Mike Stonebraker of MIT, followed by presentations from EcoCloud researchers, a poster session, and an industrial perspectives session form a group of experts among EcoCloud’s industrial affiliates and partners.

The event brings together researchers and technologists from academia and industry interested in monetizing Big Data at maximum efficiency and minimal cost. EcoCloud’s research highlights this year include technologies for massive analytics and graph processing, real-time and performance-stable cloud services, scalable parallel software, and data-centric server chips and infrastructure.

The industrial session includes talks by experts from EcoCloud’s partners and affiliates including major IT vendors. Anne Holler from VMware and Paolo Faraboschi from HP Labs will each present their respective vision on Software-Defined Datacenters. Eric Chung from Microsoft Research will present hardware specialization for Big Data services. Peter Dickman of Google will present emerging efficiency challenges in Warehouse-Scale Computing.

The event is also a great opportunity for EcoCloud to showcase its Industrial Affiliates Program, promoting research collaborations with industry to help pave the way for impending technological challenges as well as problems on the horizon and outside industry’s immediate concerns. “We target solutions towards a long-term vision for efficient and scalable data-centric IT that are also of value and interest to industrial partners in the short- and medium-term,” says Babak Falsafi, EcoCloud’s Director and Professor in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences.

EcoCloud’s targeted research enables laboratories to work together towards a common goal, thereby propelling collaboration and the potential for trans-disciplinary innovation. In so doing, it echoes and reinforces the core ethos of EPFL itself.

Please see our event’s website for more info.

Optimizing Datacenter TCO

Posted on May 25, 2013

Computing Now, the online portal highlighting IEEE Computer Society’s top articles features Boris Grot’s recent results on Optimizing Datacenter TCO with Scale-Out Processors. The guest editor, Sundara Nagarajan writes “The article defines TCO as an optimization metric that considers the costs of real estate, power delivery and cooling infrastructure, hardware-acquisition costs, and operating expenses. This excellent study will have far-reaching impact on storage system architecture.” To read the article, click here.

EcoCloud’s Annual Newsletter

Posted on May 16, 2013

Our second annual event (in June 2012) was a great success thanks to EcoCloud researchers/staff, keynote and industrial session speakers, and student presenters. In this issue, we are delighted to announce two outstanding new members in our research community bringing a wealth knowledge and expertise, and report a number of achievements by EcoCloud members, making 2012 an even more productive year since we launched the center. Besides these accomplishments ranging from research highlights covered in international media to new projects and faculty and student awards, we are also happy to report that in 2012 we have introduced the EcoCloud Visiting Scholar program to attract world-renowned researchers to spend a sabbatical and collaborate with us.

This year, we will have our annual retreat on May 31st, 2013, at the same venue as last year, Hotel de la Paix in Lausanne. We look forward to seeing you there!

Strong EcoCloud Presence at the Tech Tour Cloud & Big Data Summit

Posted on December 2, 2012

The Tech Tour Cloud & Big Data Summit, held at both the Lausanne Palace Hotel and EPFL Rolex Learning Center over 21-22 November 2012, has been a major showcase for the expertise of EcoCloud.

Prof. Babak Falsafi, Director, EcoCloud, was a member on Tuesday’s Panel “Cloud Computing: The Ups and Downs.” Additional speakers included: Rajas Gokhale, Capgemini, Tim Harper, Cientifica and Matthias Haendly, SAP. Prof. Falsafi also officially opened the Summit’s proceedings on Wednesday.

Also that day, EcoCloud Executive Committee member Prof. Anastasia Ailamaki presented her research in a talk entitled “Dias, Scientific Discovery through Raw Data Exploration” and EcoCloud Scientist, EPFL & VMWare Co-Founder Dr. Edouard Bugnion gave the event’s Keynote Speech.

Behind the scenes, EcoCloud’s Deputy Director, Dr. Anne Wiggins contributed on the Summit’s Selection Committee.

More information about the Tech Tour Cloud & Big Data Summit can be located here:

White Paper on Cloud Computing in Switzerland

Posted on December 1, 2012

Cloud Computing has become the predominant way of delivering and consuming IT infrastructure (computation and storage), middleware and applications. Such a fundamental transformation, as with the advent of the web, will change how we communicate, do business, and offer services.  EcoCloud’s Director, Prof. Babak Falsafi and Deputy Director, Dr. Anne Wiggins, collaborated on The Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences’ topical platform “ICT – Computing in science and technology” to write a white paper about “Cloud Computing in Switzerland”.

Download the white paper in English or German.

RTS Interviews EcoCloud’s David Atienza

Posted on November 30, 2012

Also of EPFL’s Embedded Systems Laboratory, Prof. Atienza was interviewed last week by RTS about his joint laboratory and EcoCloud-related research, which has resulting in a 50% reduction of energy consumption in Credit Suisse datacenters. In the interview, Prof. Atienza was also asked more generally about cloud computing energy consumption optimization research and progress.

In addition, he was asked to comment about the idea of “micro-clouds”,  which is currently discussed to create localized hubs of cloud computing networks for specific restrictions of access to information.

Prof. Atienza indicated that this idea is very similar to the well-known concept of “private clouds”, which evidently make sense in specific contexts and that are a specific way to provide access. However, EcoCloud treats the problem of scalable and secured access to data in a more general way.

Take a listen here and here.

EuroCloud Project Chosen from 500 EU FP7 Projects for Presentation to the EU Parliament

Posted on November 29, 2012

Today’s data centers consume extraordinary amounts of power, often measured in tens of megawatts per installation and equal to the power draw of 40,000 residential homes.

The high power requirements are, in part, due to inefficiencies of existing server processors, which are deployed by thousands in each data center, yet are poorly matched to the memory-intensive software applications powering online services (including web search, social networking and business analytics). With data  centers already currently consuming approximately 2% of the global power budget, experts are projecting exponential growth in data center power consumption in the coming decades.

The physical space and power limitations that inhibit the growth – and increase the costs – of large-scale data centers must be overcome. Optimal performance of the memory-intensive software applications powering online services (including web search, social networking and business analytics) is hindered by inefficient chips, energy budgets and conventional server processors (which were designed for a broad range of workloads).

The EuroCloud project targets a 10x improvement in data center cost- and energy-efficiency, representing a major step toward sustainable data center IT. The EuroCloud team have been developing advanced low-power server architectures with many cores and integrating 3D DRAM to provide very dense low-power microprocessor technologies, adapted from those used in mobile phones. This This technology can scale to hundreds of cores in a single server, and make a 1M core data center feasible. The commercial application of these results would make European data center investment more affordable, thereby facilitating industrial growth. EuroCloud has laid the foundation for funding research on green data centers as a separate program in FP7 and Horizon 2020, the upcoming next-generation EU funding program.

European Commission Vice-President Neelie Kroes said: “Today’s power-hungry cloud data centres are not sustainable in the long run. The EuroCloud chip addresses the core of this energy consumption problem. I hope further development of the EuroCloud chip will boost the position of European businesses in a sector currently dominated by non-Europeans.”

Dr. Max Lemke, Deputy Head of Unit for Embedded Systems and Control in the Directorate General Information Society and Media of the European Commission, referred to the project in  order to illustrate how the main goal of research in computing systems is getting energy efficient and low-cost computing technologies into the full spectrum of devices and systems, from mobile and embedded systems to data centers and supercomputers. “Computing is a key enabler for Europe’s competitiveness in engineering, which is a key driver for the European economy. Europe has to leverage its unique expertise in embedded and mobile computing systems to innovate in energy efficient and low-cost computing technologies,” Dr. Lemke said.

Outstanding New Faculty Award

Posted on November 28, 2012

The Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Design Automation has awarded its Outstanding New Faculty Award to EcoCloud’s David Atienza, of the Embedded Systems Laboratory (ESL). This marks the first time that the award has been won outside the USA.

The Outstanding New Faculty Award recognizes “a junior faculty member early in her or his academic career who demonstrates outstanding potential as an educator and researcher in the field of electronic design automation”.

DBToaster Breaks up Data Jams in Server Farms

Posted on November 28, 2012

The economic and environmental benefits are considerable.

Databases have revolutionized the business world. Every bottle of shampoo you buy, every purchase you make, is just one more data point sent out to your bank’s and your supermarket’s servers. This enormous quantity of detailed information allows merchants to optimize their inventories and displays and bankers to optimize the flow of money. Gigantic farms of servers are deployed in an effort to keep up with this breakneck pace of information storage and transfer. Researchers in EPFL’s DATA Laboratory have developed DBToaster, a system that speeds up the pace of operations by a factor of 100 – 10,000. The latest version has just been made available on

“Ten years ago, CERN set up one of the world’s largest databases,” explains EPFL professor Christoph Koch, DBToaster’s creator. “Today, your average supermarket has a bigger system.” This inflation has escalated dramatically, to the point that optimizing databases has become an environmental issue. In the U.S., electricity use by server farms is growing exponentially, currently representing 2% of total electricity consumption.

Avoiding data jams by accelerating the flow of data

In a classic database, data are handled in a series of successive packets. For example, say a bank wants a list of all its clients who live in Zurich who have a balance of at least 5,000 francs. The user queries the database by selecting certain criteria. This request is translated into a series of mathematical operations. Because every banking transaction results in a separate database entry, the amount of information that must be sorted is phenomenal – the first operation has to search through billions of entries. The resulting data set is then sorted by the second operator, and so on, until the list is reduced to the clients desired.

The data are so vast that often the server’s RAM is not large enough to temporarily store initial results, causing a data jam. The server must temporarily store intermediate results on the hard disk before sending them on to the next operator. This slows things down considerably, because accessing the hard disk is 10,000 times slower than accessing RAM. It also requires much more electricity.

The EPFL scientists were able to get their system to compile successive operators as one single operator. This extremely complex operation makes it possible to store huge intermediate results. In doing so, DBToaster is able to efficiently prevent data jams.

Keeping queries in memory so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel

DBToaster has a second innovation, as well. The researchers took into account the fact that queries are often repetitive. “In general, the same operator is used many times within brief periods of time,” explains Koch. Rather than having to recalculate everything each time, the system keeps the preceding result in memory and merges it with new entries. “The big innovation with DBToaster is its ability to generate efficient code that manages to figure out how previous queries should be changed in order to be updated.” In this way, only recently entered data has to be queried, rather than billions of entries.

DBToaster is available online for no charge. Financial institutions, in particular, are enthusiastic about the system. According to Koch, DBToaster “enables analytical processing in real time, which financial institutions need to perform automated trading or to enforce regulatory compliance – for instance to detect patterns of money laundering in their streams of financial transactions.” But the benefits go farther than this. As data processing consumes escalating amounts of power, DBToaster is a solution that can be easily deployed on existing servers to reduce their electricity consumption and mitigate their impact on the environment.

Newspaper article from Le Temps

Clearing the Clouds: a Major Breakthrough in Cloud Computing Efficiency

Posted on November 27, 2012

Cloud computing has emerged as a dominant computing platform providing billions of users world-wide with online services. The software applications powering these services, commonly referred to as scale-out workloads and which include web search, social networking and business analytics, tend to be characterized by massive working sets, high degrees of parallelism, and real-time constraints – features that set them apart from desktop, parallel and traditional commercial server applications. To support the growing popularity and continued expansion of cloud services, providers must overcome the physical space and power constraints that limit the growth of data centers. Problematically, the predominant processor micro-architecture is inherently inefficient for running these demanding scale-out workloads, which results in low compute density and poor trade-offs between performance and energy. Continuing the current trends for data production and analysis will further exacerbate these inefficiencies.

Improving the cloud’s computational resources whilst operating within physical constraints requires server efficiency to be optimized in order to ensure that server hardware meets the needs of scale-out workloads. To this end, the team of Babak Falsafi, a Professor in the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL, the director of the EcoCloud research center at EPFL (founded to innovate future energy-efficient and environmentally friendly cloud technologies) and a HiPEAC member, presented Clearing the Clouds: A Study of Emerging Workloads on Modern Hardware, which received the best paper award at ASPLOS 2012.

In this paper, the EPFL team explained how they used performance counters on modern servers to assess how well today’s predominant processor micro-architecture is aligned with the requirements of scale-out applications. What they discovered is that there is a significant mismatch between the two, stemming from inefficiencies in the instruction supply and execution logic as well as memory system organization. Their research shows that efficiently executing scale-out workloads requires optimizing the instruction-fetch path for multi-megabyte instruction working sets, reducing the core complexity, and shrinking the capacity of on-die caches to reduce area and power overheads. The authors also introduced CloudSuite, a benchmark suite of emerging scale-out workloads, that is expected to benefit the broader research community.

Scale-out Processors

The insights gleaned as part of the evaluation are now driving the team to develop server processors tuned to the demands of scale-out workloads. The team has recently proposed a processor organization that unlike current industrial chip design trends does away with power-hungry cores and large on-die caches and networks to free area and power for a large number of simple cores built around a streamlined memory hierarchy. Not only do these improvements lead to greater performance and efficiency at the level of each processor chip, they also enable significant cost and power savings at the level of an entire data center.

This work was partially funded by the EuroCloud Server Project, a European Commission FP7 Computing Systems Program and is deemed as a European “flagship” project, led by major research centers and industrial partners such as ARM, IMED, Nokia and the University of Cyprus. Running from Jan-2010 until Dec-2012, EuroCloud’s multiple partners are focused on increasing by 10x the efficiency in server chip level power consumption. Dr. Max Lemke, Deputy Head of Unit for Embedded Systems and Control in the Directorate General Information Society and Media of the European Commission, referred to the project to illustrate how the main goal of research in computing systems is getting energy efficient and low-cost computing technologies into the full spectrum of devices and systems, from mobile and embedded systems to data centers and supercomputers.

“Computing is a key enabler for Europe’s competitiveness in engineering, which is a key driver for the European economy,” Dr. Lemke said in his keynote address at the recent HiPEAC 2012 Conference. “Europe has to leverage its unique expertise in embedded and mobile computing systems to innovate in energy efficient and low-cost computing technologies,” he added.


Babak joined the School of Computer and Communication Sciences at EPFL in 2008. Prior to that, he was a full Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon where he led the Microarchitecture theme of the FCRP Center on Circuit and System Solutions, a multi-university consortium of over 50 academics investigating digital platform designs for the end of CMOS roadmap. He is the founding director of the EcoCloud research center pioneering future energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly cloud technologies at EPFL.

His research targets technology-scalable datacenters, design for dark silicon, architectural support for software and hardware robustness, and analytic and simulation tools for computer system performance evaluation. He is a recipient of an NSF CAREER award in 2000, IBM Faculty Partnership Awards in 2001, 2003 and 2004, and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship in 2004. He has been a member of ISCA Hall of Fame since 2003 and the Micro Hall of Fame since 2011 for contributions to the flagship IEEE/ACM conferences in computer architecture and microarchitecture respectively. He is a fellow of IEEE.

L’EPFL, Nouvelle Silicon Valley Romande

Posted on November 26, 2012

Né en 2008, le concept de “Big Data” fait désormais tendance. Pas de définition précise. Le terme englobe tout à la fois la problématique et les technologies visant à traiter le gigantes que volume d’informations généré par les technologies IT. Difficile de quantifier le phénomène. A en croire le magazine The Economist, quelque 1200 exaoctets (milliards de gigaoctets) circulent désormais via le réseau informatique, contre 150 exaoctets en 2005. La consommation énergétique des data centers progresse également de façon exponentielle. Aujourd’hui, on estime que l’empreinte carbone des centres de calcul équivaut à celle de la navigation aérienne internationale. En 2010, les technologies de l’information représentaient 1,5% de l’énergie consommée aux Etats Unis, soit 4,5 milliards de dollars.

La viabilité économique du secteur IT dépend désormais de sa capacité à juguler ses besoins énergétiques, commente Babak Falsafi, professeur au Laboratoire d’architecture de systèmes parallèles et directeur du centre de recherche EcoCloud, les deux à l’EPFL. Pour freiner le niveau de croissance actuel, il faut parvenir à décupler l’efficience des processeurs et des mémoires par un facteur de 100 d’ici à dix ans.

C’est l’objectif que s’est fixé EcoCloud. Fondé en mai 2011, le consortium réunit 13 laboratoires de l’Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL). Spécialisés dans les processus de cloud computing et la gestion de Big Data, les 14 informaticiens concernés collaborent sur trois axes de recherche clef: les données, l’énergie et l’intelligence.

Le paradoxe est que le nuage informatique contribue à augmenter la circulation de données, tout en représentant aussi le meilleur pôle d’économie pour le secteur IT, observe Babak Falsafi. Jusqu’à présent, l’industrie s’est appliquée à réduire le voltage des puces électroniques pour éviter que la consommation énergétique n’augmente au même rythme que la puissance de calcul des processeurs. Nous arrivons toutefois au bout de cette logique et n’avons plus d’autre choix que de travailler à la mutualisation des ressources pour optimiser les performances des centres de traitement.

Ce nouveau concept de développement oblige à repenser la totalité des architectures et des connectivités des data centers. Il implique une démarche holistique et un travail coordonné tant au niveau des logiciels que du hardware, des serveurs et des systèmes de refroidissement.

Au nombre des pistes prometteuses mises en oeuvre par EcoCloud figure un projet visant à optimiser le fonctionnement des machines et l’acheminement des données. Un autre pôle de recherche travaille à réguler la température des processeurs en fonction des actions programmées.

D’autres laboratoires oeuvrent à une nouvelle agrégation des informations ou à la résolution de bugs logiciels entièrement automatisée. Dénominateur commun des recherches: concevoir des outils hautement spécialisés destinés à effectuer des tâches ciblées de manière plus efficace et moins énergivore.

La puce tridimensionnelle

Le Laboratoire d’architecture de systèmes parallèles de l’EPFL collabore à l’élaboration d’une nouvelle génération de puce électronique.

Jusqu’à présent, les processeurs étaient destinés à réaliser des opérations mathématiques, résume Babak Falsafi. Avec l’avènement du nuage, leurs performances ne se mesurent plus seulement à leur puissance de calcul, mais aussi à leur capacité à accéder aux informations disponibles sur de sserveurs distants. Les téléphones portables utilisent déjà une technologie de ce type. Son transfert au secteur informatique exige toutefois une optimisation de l’interconnectivité et des procédures de traitement de grands volumes de données. Alors que les processeurs traditionnels utilisent une architecture bidimensionnelle composée d’unités de calculs alignés côte à côte, les chercheurs de l’EPFL ont conçu une puce électronique en trois dimensions utilisant des coeurs superposés.

Fondée sur la technologie Through Silicon Vias, cette nouvelle architecture verticale multiplie les connexions et accélère d’au moins 10 fois la vitesse de traitement des données, précise le professeur.

Les transactions améliorées

De son côté, le laboratoire de systèmes et d’applications de traitement archide données massives (DIAS) développe des technologies destinées à doper la performance des ordinateurs et à faciliter le maniement du Big Data. “Avant l’arrivée du nuage informatique, il suffisait de disposer d’une mémoire suffisante pour lire et organiser une certaine quantité d’informations, observe Anastasia Aïlamaki, cofondatrice d’EcoCloud et directrice de DIAS. Aujourd’hui les systèmes doivent puiser les données dans des unités de stockage distantes et les combiner de façon à obtenir une réponse rapide et fiable. Notre concept contribue à accroître l’efficacité des systèmes et à quantifier les ressources nécessaires à leur fonctionnement.” L’innovation s’applique notamment à la gestion des transactions financières. Dans une architecture traditionnelle, les ordres passés depuis plusieurs plateformes ne peuvent pas être effectués de manière simultanée. Les informations sont préalablement filtrées par un logiciel chargé de vérifier et de valider successivement chaque modification de valeur. Pour contourner ce verrouillage central qui participe à ralentir le trafic, DIAS a glissé une couche immatérielle dans son architecture logicielle. “Nous ne procédons pas à une structuration physique, mais à une organisation logique des informations, explique la directrice. Les données relatives à un même objet sont réunies dans des modules et transférées sous la forme d’une image virtuelle. Les processeurs concernés sont dès lors en mesure de synchroniser les opérations et de fournir des résultats quasi instantanés. La technologie garantit la fiabilité des transactions, tout en évaluant la puissance de calcul nécessaire à chaque opération. Les entreprises ont ainsi l’avantage de pouvoir planifier les ressources matérielles nécessaires à l’exécution des tâches qu’elles se sont fixées.”

Soutiens pécuniaires

Les travaux relatifs à cette architecture des plus novatrices ont été publiés l’an dernier et le laboratoire de l’EPFL a d’ores et déjà élaboré un prototype convaincant. A en croire son instigatrice, le produit serait désormais exploitable par le marché. “La mise en oeuvre de notre solution obligerait toutefois à repenser la globalité des structures informatiques.

La voie d’implémentation plus rapide consisterait à utiliser nos recherches pour l’élaboration d’un nouveau système core banking”, précise encore Anastasia Aïlamaki. Pour l’ heure, aucun candidat ne s’est manifesté. Le laboratoire oeuvre désormais au développement d’un outil de récupération de données. Il affine également ses algorithmes afin d’assurer leur compatibilité avec les nouvelles mémoires de changement de phase. Mieux connues sous l’abréviation PCM pour Phase change memory, ces unités de stockage pourraient s’avérer jusqu’à lOfais plus rapides que la mémoire flash et 1000 fois plus efficaces que les disques mécaniques traditionnels.

Récemment présentées lors de prestigieuses conférences IT à Hanovre et Athènes, les innovations du laboratoire DIAS ont suscité l’enthousiasme des experts, et aussi décroché de précieux soutiens financiers. Oracle s’est ainsi engagée à financer un plan de recherche axé sur l’utilisation de processeurs multicorps. IBM subventionnera pour sa part les travaux relatifs aux nouveaux supports de stockage de l’information. Les contrats renouvelables portent sur le versement global de quelque 180 000 francs par an.

Les ambitions de CS

A l’instar de la majorité des laboratoires académiques, les membres du réseau EcoCloud monnaient leurs services auprès des entreprises. Ils bénéficient en outre d’un pot commun alloué au consortium par des fonds de recherche suisses et européens et des partenaires industriels. Credit Suisse, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Nokia, Oracle, Swisscom et Intel financent en effet le projet à raison de l,7 million de francs par an. Première banque à s’être installée dans le Quartier de l’innovation de l’EPFL début 2011, Credit Suisse ne cache pas ses ambitions en matière de développement IT et mise sur la coopération pour accélérer son innovation. “Les recherches menées au sein d’EcoCloud s’inscrivent dans la logique des projets amorcés par l’établissement, commente Hans Martin Graf, directeur du Centre de développement IT de CS. Nous travaillons à la décentralisation de nos infrastructures depuis près d’une dizaine d’années, alors que les processus de virtualisation présentent encore de nombreuses inconnues. La mise en commun des compétences des divers spécialistes de l’EPFL est d’autant plus prometteuse qu’elle offre une approche globale de l’ensemble des problématiques liées au cloud computing.”

Réservoir de forces vives

Credit Suisse a entamé un programme d’optimisation énergétique de ses data centers avec le Laboratoire des systèmes intégrés de l’EPFL. Objectif: sélectionner les composants matériels et les systèmes les moins énergivores et les plus performants (voir aussi Green IT dans BAS septembre 2011). L’établissement bancaire négocie désormais de nouveaux axes de collaboration dans le domaine de la sécurité notamment. De nouveaux projets concrets devraient être lancés début 2012.

Dans l’intervalle, l’entreprise poursuit ses propres recherches dans le secteur du management de documents et des logiciels de gestion de portefeuille en particulier. Avec un investissement de quelque 10 millions de francs par an, le Centre de développement IT entend profiter des synergies offertes par son implantation au coeur de l’EPFL et souhaite affirmer son rôle d’employeur formateur. Forte d’une soixantaine de collaborateurs, la nouvelle entité de CS entend recruter une quinzaine de jeunes talents d’ici à la fin de l’année.

Une stratégie qui ne manquera pas de nourrir le réservoir de forces vives de l’établissement bancaire et participera sans nul doute à le préserver de la pénurie de spécialistes annoncée dans le secteur des technologies de l’information. La division informatique de CS emploie actuellement quelque 17 000 collaborateurs au plan mondial, dont 6000 en Suisse.

CloudSuite 1.0 Released

Posted on November 26, 2012

CloudSuite is a benchmark suite for emerging scale-out applications. The first release consists of six applications that have been selected based on their popularity in today’s datacenters. The benchmarks are based on real-world software stacks and represent real-world setups. Please visit the CloudSuite web page for further information and instructions on how to download the suite.

Clearing the Clouds

Posted on November 25, 2012

The emergence of global-scale online services has galvanized scale-out software, characterized by splitting vast datasets and massive computation across many independent servers.  In a paper appearing in ASPLOS 2012, Profs. Ailamaki and Falsafi and their teams identify the inefficiencies in modern server processors and memory systems when running emerging scale-out workloads (e.g., analytics, data serving, debugging as a service, video streaming and web) and advocate server chip architectures and hardware mechanisms that maximize silicon efficiency for these workloads. For more information see, Clearing the Clouds: A Study of Emerging Workloads on Modern Hardware by Ferdman et al., available as an EPFL Tech. Report.

Oracle Research Award

Posted on November 24, 2012

Intelligent feedback-control algorithms are emerging as instrumental in controlling temperature in entreprise servers. Until just a few years ago, servers relied on only trivial control actuators based on high-temperature thresholds for asset protection. This award is given to David for the introduction of an intelligent global feedback-control algorith that combines multiple local controllers, with gauranteed operation stability, to improve thermal characteristics and reduce energy in Oracle’s future servers. Congratulations David!

Thrustworthy Cloud Storage

Posted on November 23, 2012

The project’s goal is to enable the Swiss public to trust and use cloud storage infrastructure through the design and development of innovative technology that addresses the most crucial shortcomings of the current state-of-the-art.

Cloud computing is our new world, in which everything is a service, and users subscribe to it without knowing where is the disk that holds their data or where is the processor that performs the computation. Although most people use cloud services, many are still reluctant to entrust the cloud with their most private data. The reasons are slow and unpredictable cloud storage, limited privacy or security, and questionable cloud properties. The team aspires to remedy the very roots of the aforementioned problems by developing innovative technology which improves performance and predictability, as well as security and verifiability of the cloud services.

The proposal’s PI is Anastasia Ailamaki (EPFL). CoPIs are George Candea  (EPFL), Arjen Lenstra (EPFL), Fernando Pedone (Lugano), Pascal Felber (Neuchatel), and Srdjan Capkun (ETH).

Toward Dark Silicon

Posted on November 22, 2012

In a recent paper in IEEE Micro special issue on Big Chips, July 2011, EcoCloud researchers project that server chips will not scale beyond a few tens to low hundreds of cores, and an increasing fraction of the chip in future technologies will be dark silicon that one cannot afford to power. Specialized on-chip architectures can leverage the underutilized die area to overcome the initial power barrier, delivering significantly higher performance for the same bandwidth and power envelopes.

For more information see, Toward Dark Silicon in Servers by Hardavellas et al., in IEEE Micro, July of 2011.