System News
Principal Research Scientist with Sun Named Top Young Innovator
Dr. Robert Drost Recognized for his Work on Proximity Communication
September 30, 2004,
Volume 79, Issue 5

Proximity Communication technology is expected to radically change the performance of computers...

MIT's Magazine for Innovation, Technology Review (TR), has named Dr. Robert Drost to its 100 Top Young Innovators for 2004. Drost is a principal research scientist with Sun and has led the study of a new chip-to-chip communication technology called "Proximity Communication" at Sun Labs.

"I'm thrilled that my work and the work of my team at Sun Labs has been recognized by Technology Review, and to find myself on a list with so many great innovators," said Dr. Drost. "I love what I do, and the environment at Sun Labs that allows me to pursue a technology that I believe could be a tremendous advance in computing and for science overall." Proximity Communication technology is expected to radically change the performance of computers by allowing the transmission of terabytes of data per second -- about 100 times faster than the limits of today's technology.

This innovation would enable next-generation supercomputers to greatly boost performance of data-intensive applications such as mapping distant galaxies, simulating protein folding, projecting the results of medical treatments including chemotherapy and mapping human genes.

"Proximity Communication promises to radically improve computer performance and change how computers are built and used," said Glenn Edens, senior vice president and director of Sun Labs, "and thanks to Dr. Drost's work, we're making rapid progress in the field."

In Proximity Communication, a pair of chips is positioned face-to-face within microns of each other, but not necessarily touching. This type of positioning permits transmitter circuits on one chip and receiver circuits on the other to exchange data at on-chip speeds using capacitive coupling, without being connected by off-chip wires, soldered connections or other present techniques that slow things down. "This project is a prime example of the industry-leading research and development underway at Sun Labs, and the focus of the people we have here to invent the future of network computing," Edens said. "Being named to the TR100 is an honor Dr. Drost really deserves."

The TR100 consists of 100 individuals under age 35 whose innovative work in technology has a profound impact on today's world. Chosen by the editors of Technology Review and an elite panel of judges, this year's nominees are being recognized for their contributions in transforming the nature of technology and business in industries such as biotechnology and medicine, computing and nanotechnology.

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