Steve Furber in 2009
Stephen Byram Furber
21 March 1953
|Education||Manchester Grammar School|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge (BA, MMath, PhD)|
Valerie Margaret Elliott
|Thesis||Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachines? (1979)|
|Doctoral advisor||John Ffowcs Williams|
|Notable students||Simon Segars|
Stephen Byram Furber  (born 21 March 1953) is a British computer scientist, mathematician and hardware engineer, currently the ICL Professor of Computer Engineering in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester, UK. After completing his education at the University of Cambridge (BA, MMath, PhD), he spent the 1980s at Acorn Computers, where he was a principal designer of the BBC Micro and the ARM 32-bit RISC microprocessor. As of 2018[update], over 100 billion variants of the ARM processor have been manufactured, powering much of the world's mobile computing and embedded systems.
In 1990, he moved to Manchester where he leads research into asynchronous systems, low-power electronics and neural engineering, where the Spiking Neural Network Architecture (SpiNNaker) project is delivering a computer incorporating a million ARM processors optimised for computational neuroscience.
Furber was educated at Manchester Grammar School and represented the UK in the International Mathematical Olympiad in Hungary in 1970 winning a bronze medal. He went on to study the Mathematical Tripos as an undergraduate student of St John's College, Cambridge, receiving a Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Master of Mathematics (MMath - Part III of the Mathematical Tripos) degrees. In 1978, he was appointed a Rolls-Royce research fellow in aerodynamics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge and was awarded a PhD in 1980 for research on the fluid dynamics of the Weis-Fogh principle supervised by John Ffowcs Williams.
Commercial career: Acorn, BBC Micro and ARM
During his PhD studies in the late 1970s, Furber worked on a voluntary basis for Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry within the fledging Acorn Computers (originally the Cambridge Processor Unit), on a number of projects; notably a microprocessor based fruit machine controller, and the Proton - the initial prototype version of what was to become the BBC Micro, in support of Acorn's tender for the BBC Computer Literacy Project.
In 1981, following the completion of his PhD and the award of the BBC contract to Acorn, he formally joined the company where he was a Hardware Designer and then Design Manager. He was involved in the final design and productionization of the BBC Micro and later, the Electron, and the ARM microprocessor. In August 1990 he moved to the University of Manchester to become the ICL Professor of Computer Engineering and established the AMULET microprocessor research group.
Furber's main research interests are in Neural Networks, Networks on Chip and Microprocessors. In 2003, Furber was a member of the EPSRC research cluster in biologically-inspired novel computation. On 16 September 2004, he gave a speech on Hardware Implementations of Large-scale Neural Networks as part of the initiation activities of the Alan Turing Institute.
Furber's most recent project SpiNNaker, is an attempt to build a new kind of computer that directly mimics the workings of the human brain. Spinnaker is an artificial neural network realised in hardware, a massively parallel processing system eventually designed to incorporate a million ARM processors. The finished Spinnaker will model 1 per cent of the human brain's capability, or around 1 billion neurons. The Spinnaker project aims amongst other things to investigate:
- How can massively parallel computing resources accelerate our understanding of brain function?
- How can our growing understanding of brain function point the way to more efficient parallel, fault-tolerant computation?
Furber believes that "significant progress in either direction will represent a major scientific breakthrough". Furber's research interests include asynchronous systems, ultra-low-power processors for sensor networks, on-chip interconnect and globally asynchronous locally synchronous (GALS), and neural systems engineering.
Awards and honours
In February 1997, Furber was elected a Fellow of the British Computer Society. In 1998, he became a member of the European Working Group on Asynchronous Circuit Design (ACiD-WG). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2002 and was Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into microprocessor technology.
Furber was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in 2005 and a Fellow of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (FIET).[when?] He is a Chartered Engineer (CEng).[when?] In September 2007 he was awarded the Faraday Medal and in 2010 he gave the Pinkerton Lecture.
Furber was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours and was elected as one of the three laureates of Millennium Technology Prize in 2010 (with Richard Friend and Michael Grätzel), for development of ARM processor. In 2012, Furber was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum "for his work, with Sophie Wilson, on the BBC Micro computer and the ARM processor architecture."
In 2004 he was awarded a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. In 2014, he was made a Distinguished Fellow at the British Computer Society (DFBCS) recognising his contribution to the IT profession and industry. Furber's nomination for the Royal Society reads:
Professor Furber is distinguished for his fundamental contributions to the design and analysis of electronic systems, especially microprocessors. He was the original designer of the hardware architecture of the ARM processor, the world's leading embedded processor core and a major engineering and commercial success for the United Kingdom. Having moved to Manchester University, he established a research team to investigate asynchronous processor design, which rapidly made fundamental contributions to the field. He has shown how to combine academic design theories with practical engineering constraints to achieve a remarkable and elegant synthesis. His work demonstrates in particular how to design microprocessors with low power and low radio frequency emissions, necessary for future wireless applications. Furber has designed a series of highly original asynchronous processors to execute the ARM instruction set. These have been fabricated and subjected to extensive experimental analysis. Furber's group is the world's leading centre of research in both fundamental theory and engineering implementation of such devices.
Furber is married to Valerie Elliot with two daughters and plays 6-string and bass guitar.
- Anon (2015). "Furber, Prof. Stephen Byram". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.43464. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
- Brown, David (1 February 2010). "A Conversation with Steve Furber". Queue. Association for Computing Machinery. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Steve Furber's ORCID 0000-0002-6524-3367
- Furber, S. B.; Galluppi, F.; Temple, S.; Plana, L. A. (2014). "The SpiNNaker Project". Proceedings of the IEEE. 102: 1. doi:10.1109/JPROC.2014.2304638.
- on YouTube
- Furber, Stephen B. (2000). ARM system-on-chip architecture. Boston: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-67519-6.
- Steve Furber publications indexed by Google Scholar
- Steve Furber at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Furber, Stephen Byram (1980). Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachines?. cam.ac.uk (PhD thesis). University of Cambridge. doi:10.17863/CAM.11472. OCLC 500446535. EThOS uk.bl.ethos.456071.
- Segars, Simon Anthony (1996). Low power microprocessor design (MSc thesis). University of Manchester. OCLC 643624237. Copac 36604476.
- National Life Stories, Professor Steve Furber Interviewed by Thomas Lean, British Library
- Anon (2002). "Professor Stephen Furber CBE FREng FRS". royalsociety.org. London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the royalsociety.org website where:
“All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.” --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 11 November 2016. Retrieved 9 March 2016.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Prof Steve Furber CBE FRS FREng FBCS FIET CITP CEng - The University of Manchester". www.research.manchester.ac.uk.
- Lean, Thomas (22 October 2012). "Steve Furber: developing ARM with no people and no money". British Library.
- "Inside the numbers: 100 billion ARM-based chips".
- "Enabling Mass IoT connectivity as Arm partners ship 100 billion chips".
- Furber, Stephen B. (1989). VLSI RISC architecture and organization. New York: M. Dekker. ISBN 0-8247-8151-1.
- Grier, D. A. (2014). "Steve Furber [Interviews]". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 36: 58. doi:10.1109/MAHC.2014.8.
- on YouTube
- Steve Furber publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database. (subscription required)
- Steve Furber's results at International Mathematical Olympiad
- Furber, S. B.; Williams, J. E. F. (1979). "Is the Weis-Fogh principle exploitable in turbomachinery?". Journal of Fluid Mechanics. 94 (3): 519. Bibcode:1979JFM....94..519F. doi:10.1017/S0022112079001166.
- Fitzpatrick, J. (2011). "An interview with Steve Furber". Communications of the ACM. 54 (5): 34. doi:10.1145/1941487.1941501.
- Furber, S. (2006). "Living with Failure: Lessons from Nature?". Eleventh IEEE European Test Symposium (ETS'06). pp. 4–0. doi:10.1109/ETS.2006.28. ISBN 0-7695-2566-0.
- on YouTube
- on YouTube
- Xin Jin; Furber, S. B.; Woods, J. V. (2008). "Efficient modelling of spiking neural networks on a scalable chip multiprocessor". 2008 IEEE International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IEEE World Congress on Computational Intelligence). pp. 2812–2819. doi:10.1109/IJCNN.2008.4634194. ISBN 978-1-4244-1820-6.
- Dempsey, Paul (15 March 2011). "SpiNNaker set to receive new 18-core SoC to help reverse engineer the human brain". Engineering and Technology Magazine. Institution of Engineering and Technology. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Bush, Steve (8 July 2011). "One million ARM cores to simulate brain at Manchester". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
UK scientists aim to model 1 per cent of a human brain with up to one million ARM cores. ... ARM was approached in May 2005 to participate in SpiNNaker ... agreement extends to Manchester making enough chips for a computer with a million cores.
- "Acorn's Steve Furber looks to ARM supercomputers: A million node supercomputer". Techgineering. techgineering.org. 8 July 2011. Archived from the original on 14 October 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Furber, S. (2011). "Biologically-Inspired Massively-Parallel Architectures: A Reconfigurable Neural Modelling Platform" (PDF). Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 6578: 2–2. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-19475-7_2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 January 2013.
- Plana, L. A.; Furber, S. B.; Temple, S.; Khan, M.; Shi, Y.; Wu, J.; Yang, S. (2007). "A GALS Infrastructure for a Massively Parallel Multiprocessor". IEEE Design & Test of Computers. 24 (5): 454. doi:10.1109/MDT.2007.149.
- Temple, S.; Furber, S. (2007). "Neural systems engineering". Journal of the Royal Society Interface. 4 (13): 193. doi:10.1098/rsif.2006.0177. PMC 2359843. PMID 17251143.
- Sharp, T; Petersen, R; Furber, S (2014). "Real-time million-synapse simulation of rat barrel cortex". Frontiers in Neuroscience. 8: 131. doi:10.3389/fnins.2014.00131. PMC 4038760. PMID 24910593.
- Bhattacharya, B. S.; Patterson, C; Galluppi, F; Durrant, S. J.; Furber, S (2014). "Engineering a thalamo-cortico-thalamic circuit on SpiNNaker: A preliminary study toward modeling sleep and wakefulness". Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 8: 46. doi:10.3389/fncir.2014.00046. PMC 4033042. PMID 24904294.
- Cumming, D. R.; Furber, S. B.; Paul, D. J. (2014). "Beyond Moore's law". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences. 372 (2012): 20130376. Bibcode:2014RSPTA.37230376C. doi:10.1098/rsta.2013.0376. PMC 3928907. PMID 24567480.
- http://gow.epsrc.ac.uk/NGBOViewPerson.aspx?PersonId=5628 Grants awarded to Steve Furber by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- "Home computing pioneer honoured". 29 December 2007 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
- BBC Micro designer gets New Year's Honour ZDNet 2 January 2008
- "Professor Stephen Furber: Creator of the ARM microprocessor". Millennium Prize. 9 June 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- "Steve Furber". Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on 9 May 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Williams, Alun (20 January 2012). "Four ARM cores for every person on earth – Furber, Wilson honoured". Electronics Weekly. Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Sarah Chatwin (14 March 2014). "Professor Steve Furber – BCS Distinguished Fellow". [Computer Science Manchester]. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- "Library and Archive Catalogue EC/2002/10: Furber, Stephen Byram". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 17 March 2014.
- Micro Men (TV 2009) on IMDb
- Acorn recollections
- BBC News Technology – Home computing pioneer honoured 29 December 2007
- BBC News – Scientists to build 'brain box' 17 July 2006
- BBC News Technology – The Tech Lab: Steve Furber
- Lecture by Furber on the Future of Computer Technology
- Steve Furber Video Interview – 17-08-2009
- Steve Furber Talk @ Acorn World – 13-09-2009
| Head of the Department of Computer Science, University of Manchester