PhD Student Based at NYUAD Wins Prestigious IBM Research Internship

Circuits of a computer chip

Sachhidh Kannan, an NYU-Poly PhD student currently based at NYUAD — working closely with NYUAD Assistant Professor of Computer Engineering Ozgur Sinanoglu — was one of four individuals recently selected for IBM's prestigious The Great Minds initiative, a competition for 3-to-6-month internships at IBM Research in Zurich and Haifa, Israel. The competition is open to students from across Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; however, this year marks the first time in the competition's five-year history that a student from the Middle East has been selected to participate.

The internship will provide Kannan with the opportunity to work alongside world-class scientists as he continues his research and development work on cutting-edge electronic chip memory design technology.

The most prominent technology currently used for memory storage in computing and electronic devices, known as static random-access memory (SRAM), is beginning to reach its limits in terms of power efficiency, speed, and size. And the most promising alternate logic and memory design technology with potential to make significant advances in these areas, resistive random-access memory (RRAM), is currently in the stage of investigation and development.

Kannan will spend six months from June to December 2012 at the IBM Research facility in Zurich to investigate this technology and develop techniques to build and test memory devices of miniscule size.

He noted that this technology is likely only one to two years away from commercial use and the impact of better memory technology will be significant.

"We are reinventing the building blocks of memory storage," Kannan said. "With better memory, cell phone batteries would last longer and computers would store more."

After this internship experience, Kannan expects to bring back with him new information, expertise, and an understanding of real challenges in the industry as he continues his research in this area at NYUAD.

"This is an important alternative technology to examine," his faculty advisor Sinanoglu said. "If this project reaches a successful conclusion, it could be very useful to local industry."