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ACM Queue interview
Thu 1 Mar 2007, 11:54
Processors » Technology »

Hennessy and Patterson on Parallelism

Interview with authors of New Testament of processor architecture
by Adrian Offerman

ACM Queue recently published an interview with John Hennessy and David Patterson. They are the authors of Computer Architecture; A Quantitative Approach, which can be considered the New Testament of processor design and architecture.


We're into the explicit parallelism multiprocessor era now, and this will dominate for the foreseeable future. I don't see any technology or architectural innovation on the horizon that might be competitive with this approach.


From my perspective, parallelism is the biggest challenge since high-level programming languages. It's the biggest thing in 50 years because industry is betting its future that parallel programming will be useful.

Industry is building parallel hardware, assuming people can use it. And I think there's a chance they'll fail since the software is not necessarily in place. So this is a gigantic challenge facing the computer science community. If we miss this opportunity, it's going to be bad for the industry.

Imagine if processors stop getting faster, which is not impossible. Parallel programming has proven to be a really hard concept. Just because you need a solution doesn't mean you're going to find it.

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