[From IPTV set-top runs Linux]
Archive for Hardware
I was recently invited to be on the panel Reinventing Audio and Music Computation for Many-Core Processors at the International Computer Music Conference (ICMC 2008), Belfast, Ireland, Aug. 2008. In my position statement, The Challenges and Opportunities of Multiple Processors: Why Multi-Core Processors are Easy and Internet is Hard, I explain why programming multi-core processors is basically a sociological problem (the technical problems were solved long ago) and why programming loosely coupled systems (like the Internet) still has a lot of technical challenges. I am curious to hear what the LtU community thinks about this.
Parallel processing isn’t just for supercomputers or GPUs anymore. Computer makers are throwing multiple cores at everything from servers to your printer. But the focus on horsepower misses a crucial problem associated with adding more processors. To really take advantage of them, you have to rewrite your code.As anyone who’s ever hosted a demolition party well knows, you can only throw so many workers at a problem before people start to linger at the edges, swill your alcohol and generally stop helping. You need not just manpower, but a good way to organize those workers so that someone, says, preps a drop cloth before your walls get taken out. And others prep for cleanup while the plaster is flying.
Silicon doesn’t tend toward drunken destruction, but if you’re putting the cores in place, it would be great to give them better instructions. Otherwise the promise of performance is just a promise, which is why Microsoft and Intel recently pledged $20 million to two universities trying to figure out an easy way to translate the billions of lines of code into an instruction set for multicore chips.
Others are pushing Erlang as a potential solution to parallel programming, while those in the supercomputing industry are warning of a performance drop caused by applications not keeping up with the cores. Software startup VirtualLogix is trying to use virtualization software to govern how multicore chips run applications by making the programs think they’re running on one processor.
Last week, during the launch of the iPhone, Steve Jobs told the New York Times that the next generation of the Apple OS will not focus on new features, but will instead solve the problem of writing software for multicore processors. Apple has code-named the technology Grand Central, and based it on a programming language called OpenCL. It will parallelize C programming languages for graphics processors.
Besides investing millions of research dollars into the search for a magic compiler or reviving an older language, chip vendors are coming up with stopgaps. Unfortunately these stopgaps are focused solely on their own silicon. Nvidia has released a tool called CUDA to help translate C languages into parallel instructions that can be used by Nvidia’s GPUs for scientific computing. (Apple’s OpenCL looks similar to CUDA.) And AMD also has its own effort, called Stream.
Freescale on Monday announced a set of multicore embedded processors that come with software support in the form of a simulator that ships before the chips do. As a result, users can start their development efforts and test their multicore code weeks ahead of time. “Customers are not looking for suppliers to offer them a chip and then leave them to program it themselves,” explained Steve Cole, a systems architect for Freescale. “There’s a certain amount of support and market knowledge that we need to have to help our customers.”
With all the work it takes to rewrite code, it’s no wonder everyone from startups to established companies are desperately searching for the programming equivalent of a Babel fish to solve the problem. The one that succeeds will be responsible for taking computing to its next jump in speed.
New York tends to be a dusty city and a vacuum cleaner is clearly a required accessory. I am not a big fan of the “American” stand-up vacs. I prefer the European models.
But this time, I am kind of tempted by a backpack model. Ok, it might be a hammer to kill a fly, but I think I would use the vac more often. Finding the right model is going to be a challenge though.
Here are a couple of sites that seem to have some nice models:
Go away dust !!!!
Nvidia APX 2500 Prototype – infoSync World: pretty cool.
Memory Infinite is a design concept by Vicky Wei. Instead of having to use multiple USB flash drives when one fills up, this flash drive has a female connector on one end and male on the other. When more storage is needed you simply attach another Memory Infinite flash drive.
Memory Infinite, USB Storage [Yanko Design]
The devices include enhanced memory with 1 GB, 2 GB and 8 GB of storage, respectively. The company suggested the N91’s 8 GB memory will hold about 6,000 songs in a compressed format, or about 2,000 songs in a less-compressed format.
The fourth device, the N75, is a thin phones and will launch in the United States in the fourth quarter. The N75 is about three-quarters of an inch thick, which compares favorably with phones from rivals Motorola and Samsung that measure about one-half inch thick.
The fifth device announced today, the N95, is “what computers have become,” says the Finnish handset maker in a press release. It’s a 2-way slider with a phone keypad on the bottom with media keys on the top.
The N95 includes 802.11g WiFi, a 5-megapixel camera, video, push e-mail, GPS capabilities, maps (from Tele Atlas), various music functions and is designed to run on HSDPA networks, though it is compatible with EDGE and W-CDMA networks. Currently, only Cingular Wireless is building out an HSDPA network, which provides faster download speeds than W-CDMA networks.N95 runs on Nokia’s S60 platform, which is based on the Symbian operating system. The company said the phone will ship early next year for about $700.
In other news, Nokia and Loudeye have received approval for their proposed merger from the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice, the companies said in a filing today. Loudeye is a digital music distributor, out of Seattle. They aggregate rights and content from all the major labels and hundreds of independents.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile’s Wi-Fi (UMA) phone service will likely require an additional service plan, as well as a special router and phone. The Seattle test is apparently using the Samsung SGH-T709 along with a provided D-Link TM-G5240 router.
The WSJ speculates that T-Mobile could offer a VoIP service much like Vonage, which would also entice subscribers away from landline phones. The paper said T-Mobile holds a special advantage since doing so would not cannibalize other parts of its business. UMA Today covers the beat.
Meanwhile, Cambridge-based iSkoot enables cell phone users to connect and make calls through the free Skype Voice over IP (VoIP) service, notes WiFiPlanet. The iSkootMobile application is now available for the Palm Treo 650 and 700p. Users can simply download the client to their smartphone, log onto their Skype accounts, and start calling and receiving calls from their online buddies.