Friday, September 01, 2006

opportunities for a multithreaded software company

two articles caught my attention today:

The CTO of Intel gave a talk at Stanford last week looking to stimulate multithreaded software development. It is not surprising that Intel needs software to target it's multi-core offering. The problems for software developers is to design scalable systems so that as Intel cranks out more and more cores on their chips, we don't have to undergo a software revision each time.

Another article is about algorithms for determining sub-oceanic topology from seismic data. Allan Willsky of "Signals and Systems" fame, has been working for Shell Oil on ways of crunching lots of data to speed up the mapping of underwater salt deposits. Sounds like an opportunity for acceleration.

2 comments:

Vladimir Orlt said...

not just scalable, but hardware-independent (or, rather, hardware-transparent), like all good OSs should be...

raja neogi said...

The computation model leveraging multicore/multithreaded processors and morphable accelerators like FPGA, scale well. the problem is that developing SW using these infrastructures is not trivial. We will increasingly rely on virtualization and management frameworks to support virtualization, to accomplish this.

The VMMs are expected to seamlessly shift workload between multiple VMs to manage power consumption and optimize runtime behavior.

Multihreading becomes important as the cpu/memory speed gap widens, but multi-threading does not come free -- more transfer registers and scheduling costs. There are two choices -- either you allow massive multithreading on each core OR offload some threads of execution to morphabe accelerators (like FPGA). Perhaps a mix of the two approaches is ideal, because (a) thread mapping to FPGA costs more transistors, and (b) pure threading on the core needs very complex scheduling.

The summary is that application developers will write code to VMs (NOT multi-core machines), and expect the VMM to shift workload on-demand. We will see more alliances between the Intels, AMDs, TIs of the world with the Xilinx, Alteras of the world. The partnership is bound to happen.

-raja