The Carbon research group is focused on research related to multicore architectures and software. We are a part of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT.

ATAC: A Manycore Processor with On-Chip Optical Network

ATAC is a new 1000-core multicore computing system that leverages recent advances in nanophotonics to communicate values between cores. The cores within the ATAC chip can communicate almost instantaneously given the low latency and high bandwidth properties of optical communications. This global communication infrastructure will improve performance, energy efficiency and programmability of large scale multicores.


ATAC’s optical network is configured such that all cores are effectively connected via an optical waveguide. Every core is able to broadcast to every other core while simultaneously receiving from every other core. ATAC’s efficient all-to-all communication ability allows parallel algorithms to scale to large numbers of cores, partly enabled by wavelength division multiplexing. Given this low communication cost, writing ATAC programs that achieve high performance is usually more straightforward than on conventional multicore architectures. ATAC’s communication substrate also enables extremely efficient shared memory protocols that scale to much larger numbers of cores than traditional shared memory implementations. Our goal with ATAC is to explore the relatively new area of integrating optics into large-scale multicores, focusing on architecture, programming, and energy efficiency.

Publications and Presentations

  • Cross-layer Energy and Performance Evaluation of a Nanophotonic Manycore Processor System Using Real Application Workloads by George Kurian, Chen Sun, Chia-Hsin Owen Chen, Jason E. Miller, Jürgen Michel, Lan Wei, Dimitri A. Antoniadis, Li-Shiuan Peh, Lionel C. Kimerling, Vladimir Stojanovic and Anant Agarwal, in Proceedings of the 26th IEEE International Parallel &
    Distributed Processing Symposium (IPDPS), May 21-24, 2012. (pdf)
  • ATAC: A 1000-Core Cache-Coherent Processor with On-Chip Optical Network by George Kurian, Jason Miller, James Psota, Jonathan Eastep, Jifeng Liu, Jurgen Michel, Lionel Kimerling and Anant Agarwal, in Proceedings of Parallel Architectures and Compilation Techniques (PACT), Sept 11-15, 2010. (pdf)
  • ATAC: Improving Performance and Programmability with On-Chip Optical Networks by James Psota, Jason Miller, George Kurian, Hank Hoffman, Nathan Beckmann, Jonathan Eastep and Anant Agarwal, in Proceedings of International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (ISCAS), May 30 – June 2, 2010. (pdf)
  • On-Chip Optical Communication for Muticore Processors by Jason Miller. Presented at the MIT Microphotonics Center Communications Technology Roadmap II Meeting, May 22, 2009. (ppt)
  • ATAC: A Manycore Processor with On-Chip Optical Network by Jason Miller, James Psota, George Kurian, Nathan Beckmann, Jonathan Eastep, Jifeng Liu, Mark Beals,
    Jurgen Michel, Lionel Kimerling, and Anant Agarwal. MIT CSAIL Technical Report, MIT-CSAIL-TR-2009-018, May 5, 2009. (pdf)
  • ATAC: All-to-All Computing Using On-Chip Optical Interconnects by James Psota, Jonathan Eastep, Jason Miller, Theodoros Konstantakopoulos, Michael Watts, Mark Beals, Jurgen Michel, Kim Kimerling, Anant Agarwal, in Boston Area Architecture (BARC), Jan 26, 2007 (pdf)

Team Members:

  • James Psota
  • George Kurian
  • Jason Miller
  • Anant Agarwal


This material is based upon work supported by DARPA and the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0811724.