Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Chip Makers to Software Developers: Keep Up!

According to Intel, the free ride for software developers is over; it's time to keep up with processor development and get on the Moore's Law train.

Moore's Law states that chips will shrink in size and thus double their performance every 18 months. They've been doing exactly that, adding cores to their chips rather then just developing faster singe cores. The problem is, the software, as it stands today, can't make use of all that parallelism.

The problem really exists in the desktop world rather than in supercomputers and servers. From the chip makers' perspective, the software developers have become complacent, fat and happy, if you will.

Now, even Microsoft is sounding the same warning.
Microsoft has recently been sounding a similar warning. At last week's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Los Angeles, Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie tried to spur the industry to start addressing the issue.

"We do now face the challenge of figuring out how to move, I'll say, the whole programming ecosystem of personal computing up to a new level where they can reliably construct large-scale applications that are distributed, highly concurrent, and able to utilize all this computing power," Mundie said in an interview there. "That is probably the single most disruptive thing that we will have done in the last 20 or 30 years."

Earlier this week, Microsoft's Ty Carlson said that the next version of Windows will have to be "fundamentally different" to handle the amount of processing cores that will become standard on PCs. Vista, he said, is designed to handle multiple threads, but not the 16 or more that chips will soon be able to handle. And the applications world is even further behind.

"In 10 to 15 years' time we're going to have incredible computing power," Carlson said. "The challenge will be bringing that ecosystem up that knows how to write programs."
Yes folks, parallelism is the future of computing. Computers already have the kind of speed that neurons can never match. Now it's time for them to adopt the massive parallelism that the human brain makes such fruitful use of. Onward!

Source: CNET News

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StephUF said...

Hey Barry, what is parallelism?

bmahfood said...

Parallelism is running several computer tasks concurrently through many processors in parallel (side-by-side), rather than trying to squeeze them all through a single processor faster. It would be like using several hoses to transfer water instead of one.

The problem is that the software is not designed to make use of parallel processors, so the hardware is not being efficiently used.