Meeting Summary: Approximately 5% of current US energy consumption is used just to run computers. Similarly, its energy bill accounts for a large fraction of the lifetime budget of a modern high-performance computing center. Improving the energy efficiency of current and near-future computers is thus crucial to reducing energy usage and associated environmental and economic costs. It is also crucial for the development of next-generation exascale computers and beyond, where one of the major obstacles is how to build the computers so that they do not melt (as computers at such scale would if built using current computational devices).
In addition, recent developments in nonequilibrium statistical mechanics have greatly expanded our understanding of the surprisingly rich and varied thermodynamic attributes of computation. Therefore the time is ripe for a new synthesis between physics, theory of computing, and computer engineering to make great strides in energy-efficient computing.
To begin to develop this synthesis, we propose to bring together researchers from multiple fields at the Santa Fe Institute for two-and-a-half days to foster development of a new synthesis of thermodynamics and computation. Participants are anticipated from the fields of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics, theoretical computer science, and those in computer engineering focused on energy-efficient computing.