David May wins lifetime achievement award

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20 December 2010

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David May FRS FREng, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bristol, as well as Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of spin-out semiconductor company XMOS, was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 2010 Elektra Electronics Industry Awards in London on 9 December.

The annual awards ceremony called The Elektras are run by Electronics Weekly. The aim of the awards, which have been running for five years, is to reward the achievements of individuals and firms across the European Electronics industry.

XMOS, which started as a University of Bristol undergraduate computer-science project, is now a major semi-conductor business developing software-defined silicon devices and tools. Professor May developed the core technology that enables consumer electronics equipment manufacturers to follow fashions and differentiate products rapidly at minimal cost.

Professor May gained many years of experience in the semiconductor industry before coming to the University of Bristol in 1995. He was Head of the Department of Computer Science from 1995 to 2006. He introduced many innovations to the curriculum, especially in design and enterprise. As a result, every year, new companies are formed by graduating students.

In 2008 Professor May was named as one of '35 people, places and things that will shape the future' by the electronics industry's online newspaper, EE Times.

He was chief architect of the transputer architecture at Inmos Ltd between 1979 and the mid-1980s. The Transputer was a pioneering single-chip processor designed to support parallel processing. It was highly influential in provoking new ideas in computer architecture, several of which have re-emerged in modern designs.

The transputer and Inmos left a legacy on the computing world and also established Bristol, UK as a hub for microelectronic design and innovation.

XMOS is today one of a host of companies, including Intel, working on how to use parallelism to exploit the abundance of transistors on a single integrated circuit. Professor May is the developer of the company's unique technology which enables complete systems to be designed rapidly in software.

In 1990, Professor May was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to computer architecture and parallel computing and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010. He has been granted many patents centred around microprocessor technology and is on the technical advisory boards of several semiconductor companies.

Professor May commenting about his award, said: "I am delighted and honoured to be awarded a lifetime achievement award by the European Electronics Industry. I've had a lot of fun over my lifetime - both designing products in Industry and working with students in the University – and I hope to continue."

Taken from the University News Section

Photo taken by Chris Sharp