[Oberon] Parallel computing ?

Chris Glur easlab at absamail.co.za
Sat Feb 3 13:07:02 MET 2007

Brantley Coile wrote:
> http://www.eecs.berkeley.edu/Pubs/TechRpts/2006/EECS-2006-1.html
>   >> "In an InformationWeek article entitled 'Where's the Software to Catch 
>> Up to Multicore Computing?' the Chief Architect at IBM gives some fairly 
>> compelling reasons why your favorite software will soon be rendered 
>> deadly slow because of new hardware architectures. Software, she says, 
>> just doesn't understand how to do work in parallel to take advantage of 
>> 16, 64, 128 cores on new processors. Intel just stated in an SD Times 
>> article that 100% of its server processors will be multicore by end of 
>> 2007. We will never, ever return to single processor computers. 
>> Architect Catherine Crawford goes on to discuss some of the ways 
>> developers can harness the 'tiny supercomputers' we'll all have soon, 
>> and some of the applications we can apply this brute force to."
>> --
Doug Danforth wrote:
> Random Access Memory (RAM) is fast because it is massively parallel.  A 
> 32 bit address is broadcast simultaneously to all locations in memory 
> and only one of those addresses responds by placing its contents on the 
> output bus (read operation) or by modifying its contents from the input 
bus (write operation).

Perhaps 'associative memory' works something like that, but standard
RAM has very little parallelism.   Except for the 32 'select left or right 
channels' which are simultaneously set. Then serially, ie. AFTER the 
32 'railway points' are all set, the train travels serially [at the speed 
of light] to the destination.
Ie. it has to pass switch n before it passes switch n+1.
The only parallelism comes from the 32 bit adr-bus, which sets all
'railway points' together. Which is no different from the centuries
old punch-card fabric weavers.  

But that's only possible because the 32 bits were already setup
and stored BEFORE, which was inevitably determined serially.
Ie. if you are going to get the byte at adr. A, this decision has
already been determined by the compiler - serially.
The adr. A is determined before and stored for later use.

The first bloke who made a printing press, printed all the letters 
of the page in parallel, but he needed a week to carve the wood.
And remember that 20 yes/no questions will select 1 from out of 
a million. 

> What does this have to do with computing?  It is the next level for it 
> is a pattern matching and completion machine.  Presented with an image 
> of a fuzzy "O" it is possible to clean it up and retrieve a very good 
> representation of an O (actual experiment performed).  It can do face 
> recognition, speech recognition, weather prediction, handwriting 
> recognition, and other pattern matching tasks.

I expect great results from tasks that can run in parallel and am waiting
for Hoare's transputer to come back once WinTel tops out.
The idea of a network of heuritic collaborators, where it's not necessay
to really know exactly what's happening works for the internet.

For oberon-types, I think the next wave is mobile. So ARM should shine.
I thought Oberon-ARM was just Wirth's hobby helicopter project.
But I read that ETH was 2nd behind MIT in a very serious engineering
project competition.

In 1945 the atom bomb was the top weapon/defence, then the H-bomb,
then stealth missiles.  With today's situation unmanned aircraft are 
appropriate. So ETH is at the leading edge of advanced weaponry.

Until biological sciences make our hard technology irrelevant.

== Chris Glur.

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