UST Attacks Multi-Core Chip Problem
Laurie and Layton Perrin are twin brothers originally from Parrsboro, N.S., who are developing a solution that could dramatically improve the speed and energy efficiency of most software on the market.
Their startup, Unified Software Technologies, is developing technology that, if successful, will be especially attractive to sectors requiring huge computing power, such as data analytics or cloud-based data storage. These industries are having problems because most software has difficulty operating correctly and efficiently on most modern processors.
“We’ve seen a ceiling on clock speed; the industry is maxing out at around four gigahertz,” Layton Perrin said in an interview.
“For the last 10 years, there’s been a shift to multi-core processors, but the problem is that software has to catch up.”
Since the birth of computers, the capacity of microchips has doubled roughly every two years, allowing for faster processors. A few years ago, to maintain this rate of growth, manufacturers began to develop microchips with two cores instead of one. Since then, they have moved on to chips with four and even six cores.
The problem is that most software is designed to operate on single-core chips so any gain in processor speed is lost by the inadequacy of the software.
Laurie Perrin, who lives in Wolfville, has developed and patented a “lock-free algorithm,” a technology that can help software run more quickly on multi-core processors. He says the algorithm often increases computing power by a factor of between five and 40 times, with a commensurate reduction in the electricity needed to carry out the computing. Given the amount of energy consumed by large data centres, the product is a form of green technology because it reduces electricity consumption.
Layton, who lives in Orlando, Fla., has joined in the venture as a business development specialist. Together, they’re working on rolling out their initial product, the Speed web server, to major data centres and other massive users of computing power. They hope to have sales next year.
“We’re at the point now where we have developed the product, and the patents are awarded,” said Layton Perrin.
“We’re going to market, and we’re in early discussions with some potential early adopters.”
They have worked with Damian Dechev, assistant professor of computing science at the University of Central Florida and a recognized leader in lock-free programming. The Perrins said Dechev, who has received a National Science Foundation grant to investigate lock-free algorithms, has validated UST’s core technology.
The company is seeking to establish academic and commercial partnerships as part of their preparation to enter the web server marketplace. They want to further prove UST’s performance through third-party benchmarking and demonstrate that the technology complies with industry standards while looking into opportunities to integrate the Speed web server into existing data centre infrastructure.
United Software Technologies was a regional finalist earlier this year in Innovacorp’s I-3 competition for the Annapolis Valley grouping. It is working with Innovacorp on validating the product and finding early customers.
So far, the twins have invested $100,000 in the project themselves. As they commercialize the product, they think their first capital raise will have a target of about $350,000 to $400,000.
Disclaimer: Entrevestor receives financial support from government agencies that support startup companies in Atlantic Canada. The sponsoring agencies play no role in determining which companies and individuals are featured in this column, nor do they review columns before they are published.