May 7-10, 2017 Asilomar, California

Intermittent Computing: Challenges and Research Opportunities

Brandon Lucia, Vignesh Balaji, Alexei Colin, Kiwan Maeng and Emily Ruppel

The maturation of energy-harvesting technology and ultra-low-power computer systems has led to the advent of intermittently-powered, batteryless devices that operate entirely using energy extracted from their environment. Intermittently operating devices present a rich vein of programming languages research challenges and the purpose of this paper is to illustrate these challenges to the PL research community. To provide depth, this paper includes a survey of the hardware and software design space of intermittent computing platforms. On the foundation of these research challenges and the state of the art in intermittent hardware and software, this paper describes several future PL research directions, emphasizing a connection between intermittence, distributed computing, energy-aware programming and compilation, and approximate computing. We illustrate these connections with a discussion of our ongoing work on programming for intermittence, and on building and simulating intermittent distributed systems.