June 3, 2023

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How we built the world’s fastest processor

The photonic processor created by the AUTH researchers runs at speeds of up to 50 GHz, 25 times faster than the speed of modern GPUs. stock image

Five years ago, the Computational Intelligence and Deep Learning Research Group of the AUTH Informatics Department began collaborating with the Wireless and Photonic Systems and Networks group. Today, thanks to the work of the two teams, Greece has recorded the fastest artificial intelligence processor in the world using light. The advantages of the AUTH photonic processor are that it operates at speeds up to 50 GHz, 25 times faster than modern GPUs, with the simultaneous ability to reduce power consumption by 10 times.

How We Built the World's Fastest -1 Processor
Strengthening cooperation between the academic and scientific world with the public and private sectors proposed by Mr. Anastasios Tevas.

“That is, it achieves greater speed and significant energy savings,” he notes. Today speaking to “K”, Mr. Anastasios Tephas, Professor of the Department of Informatics, Head of the Computational Intelligence and Deep Learning Research Group and Scientific Leader of the research with Associate Professor Mr. Nikos Bleros, Head of the Wireless and Photonic Systems and Networks Group. Their success demonstrates the value of Greek scholars, who have to overcome quite a few obstacles.

How difficult is it for a small research team to reach such a high level?

– The difficulty is great due to the insufficient research funding in our country. In our case, we first had to secure financing for our ideas mainly from European funds and secondly from national funds. For Greek research groups, direct funding from the European Union is often the only way to conduct high-level research. Factors that may hold us back, such as limited resources and infrastructure, as well as stiff competition, can be addressed to some extent through the right strategy and research approach.

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Collaboration with other research groups and national and international networks, promotion and dissemination of results, and above all investment in human capital, play an important role. That is, outstanding young researchers studying and graduating from Greek universities. Achieving a high standard in everything we do takes time, dedication and continuous effort.

Where does research suffer in Greece?

Greece has high-level researchers, but they are worried about whether they have the money to make a living and continue their research in the next year, and whether they will be able to get financial support in efforts to communicate and promote their work at the international level by participating in scientific conferences. Unfortunately, there is a constant flow of funding, with huge competition, only direct from the European Union, which issues invitations for research proposals, for all scientific subjects, once or twice a year.

However, the success rates are small, typically succeeding in 1 in 15 sentences. Thus, the research policy of our country must also be adapted to the continuous annual invitations to higher education institutions and research institutions in the country for research projects in all academic subjects.

– Does Greece have comparative advantages compared to other countries in order to strengthen its position as an innovation hub?

Greece has highly trained and experienced human resources in various fields. High quality education and focus on academic research create skills and knowledge that can contribute to innovation. Higher academic education is combined with the richness of Greek culture. Finally, Greece’s geographic position, as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East, as well as its dominant position in the Balkans, can create opportunities for collaboration and innovation.

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– What should we do to reduce the flight of good young scientists and facilitate the return of those who left?

– Significantly increasing job creation on terms that are in line with international reality in terms of salaries, infrastructure, possibilities for additional funding, and the development of research groups. Fostering research and an academic community will encourage young scientists to stay in the country and contribute to innovation. Strengthening collaboration between the academic and scientific community with the public and private sectors can create opportunities for employment and the application of research findings in practice.

In general, a stable enabling environment should be created for young scholars in Greece, with opportunities for growth, recognition and reward. It is really sad that we have the opportunity to work with some of the best Greek researchers only during their undergraduate studies, as they go abroad directly afterwards. Unfortunately, most of the time they do not leave for better education but for better chances of finding a decent job and advancement.

Portugal example

– What is required to promote innovation in the country?

– Besides the obvious increase in funding, I would also like to point out the need for collaboration between academia, industry and business. It is important to create additional mechanisms to encourage collaboration between universities, research institutions, companies and the public sector. We do not need to reinvent the wheel as we can apply successful models in Greece followed by the European Union.

This can be done by creating special programs and agencies that will facilitate technology transfer and the development of innovative products and services. The establishment of such mechanisms within higher education institutions in the country is also very important. Merit-based distribution of research and innovation funds can be ensured by evaluation committees, which do not include Greek professors and researchers.

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It is a practice that is applied systematically in other European countries. In Portugal, for example, the Research and Innovation Proposal Evaluation Committee is composed entirely of researchers from outside Portugal. For the past three years I have been involved in this committee and I think it is a very good business model.