[concurrency-interest] Economist article

Yuval Shavit yshavit at akiban.com
Tue Jun 14 20:27:04 EDT 2011


As I read it, the main point of the article wasn't that multithreading is
new. Rather, it's that that while you used to be able to write a
single-threaded app and expect it to double in speed in a couple years, you
can't do that any more. These days, if you want your app do run much faster
with the latest hardware, you're probably going to have to do some MT work.
Then they go on to describe a few of the problems the development community
faces in that task, and while they certainly paint with a broad brush, I
don't think they're being * disingenuous.* I'm sure biologists can point out
any number of flaws in the Economist's coverage of the latest virus
whatsahoosit, but I find it interesting to read about what's going on in
those fields at a high level without having to understand much biology.

On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 6:30 PM, David Holmes <davidcholmes at aapt.net.au>wrote:

> Gregg,
>
> Gregg Wonderly writes:
> > On 6/14/2011 5:02 PM, David Holmes wrote:
> > > And it's always written as-if we'd never had multi-processors
> > > before we had multi-core.
> >
> > That's a fair viewpoint, but multi-processor machines were a rare
> > occurrence.
> > Only when multi-core hit the desktop was there plenty of places
> > to "witness" the
> > problems of single path software designs on multi-path processor systems.
>
> Maybe it's an issue of terminology but dual-processor desktops were not
> that
> rare 10 years ago (dual proc laptops maybe). Further, hyper-threaded
> systems
> were far from rare and still exposed race conditions masked on true
> uniprocessors.
>
> Multi-core didn't come out of thin air from left field and take us by
> surprise - well not some of "us" anyway.
>
> I find all of these articles completely disengenous because they are
> written
> as if MP/MT/MC is something brand new that has hit us unaware and that is
> just a load of bulldust. Certainly the applicability of MP/MT/MC is
> spreading and the number of cores is increasing, but the basic principles
> of
> concurrent programming apply on 2 cores as well as 200 - it is scalability
> and performance that suffers as the number of cores increases (with shared
> memory multi-threading anyway).
>
> David
>
>
> > In so many ways, multi-core was "sprung" on software developers and their
> > development tool sets with little help and support for developers
> > to understand
> > and adequately "prove" software systems to be safe and operate as
> > designed, really!
> >
> > Gregg Wonderly
> >
> > > David
> > >
> > >     -----Original Message-----
> > >     *From:* concurrency-interest-bounces at cs.oswego.edu
> > >     [mailto:concurrency-interest-bounces at cs.oswego.edu]*On
> > Behalf Of *Joe Bowbeer
> > >     *Sent:* Wednesday, 15 June 2011 4:49 AM
> > >     *To:* concurrency-interest
> > >     *Subject:* Re: [concurrency-interest] Economist article
> > >
> > >     The problem is always stated as "we have these multicores
> > so now we have to
> > >     figure out how to use them".
> > >
> > >     On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 11:36 AM, Tim Peierls wrote:
> > >
> > >         I didn't pick up the everything-is-a-nail vibe. The
> > article just points
> > >         out that languages, programmers, and educators are
> > unexpectedly playing
> > >         catch-up because of the proliferation of multicores on
> > the desktop,
> > >         something readers of the Economist probably wouldn't
> > know about without
> > >         being in the biz.
> > >
> > >         --tim
> > >
> > >         On Tue, Jun 14, 2011 at 12:53 PM, Joe Bowbeer wrote:
> > >
> > >             "Parallel programming, once an obscure niche, is
> > the focus of
> > >             increasing interest as multicore chips proliferate
> > in ordinary PCs."
> > >
> > >
> > <http://www.economist.com/node/18750706?frsc=dg%7Ca><http://www.ec
> onomist.com/node/18750706?frsc=dg%7Ca>
> >             http://www.economist.com/node/18750706?frsc=dg%7Ca
> >
> >             The article mentions Scala but not java.util.concurrent.
> >
> >             To me, this problem still seems more "derivative" of the
> technology
> >             and less driven by consumer demand, and I'm disappointed that
> The
> >             Economist could not find a more compelling statement.
> >
> >             Is this really a case of: To the man with a multi-headed
> hammer,
> >             every problem looks like a multi-headed nail?
> >
> >             Maybe my mobile-shaded perspective will change now that
> multicores
> >             are shipping on handsets...
> >
> >             Joe
> >
> >
> >
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>
>
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