The alarm has been sounding for quite a while that all the potential for innovation, invention and problem-solving that multicore processing holds will go to waste if we don't get started on programming for parallel processing.
IT Business Edge blogger Arthur Cole outlined many of the leading strategies a few days ago. It's a problem that is bringing together for-profit and non-profit, hardware vendor and software vendor, enterprises and researchers.
The fact that software-development methods that have worked for serial processing are proving inadequate for multicores that are fast approaching 80, 100 or more cores means that a breaking point of sorts has been reached. The industry has to save itself and the solutions could be revolutionary.
Last week, IT Business Edge blogger and analyst Rob Enderle wrote about his experience touring HP's revamped research labs and what the new focus might mean for the technology industry as a whole. Though they're the ones with the cash, Enderle wrote, the leading tech giants aren't leading when it comes to research and new technology development. It's a function of short-term market pressures, but one that HP is trying to buck. Enderle sees it as a significant move that will bring other vendors back into the research fold, as well.
Now Microsoft and Intel are leading a push toward more intense research into parallel-processing development methods, donating $20 million, over the next five years to the Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at the University of California-Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. UC-Berkeley researcher David Patterson says he hopes the centers' work will result in, for example, mobile devices that can do really useful stuff, like tell you, through face recognition, the name that's just on the tip of your tongue.
The EE Times reports that Patterson and the other head researchers plan to unveil their first set of projects in 2010. Parallel browser applications and retrieval of images and other complex data may be the first tools featured. The centers' work will all be under the open source BSD license.