Tag: computing

Linus rubbishes parallel computing

torvaldsThe creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds has discretely muttered that he does not think that the world of parallel computing is much chop.

In his typically understated way, he hinted that parallelism was “snake oil” and that a huge body of ideas related to that flavour of computing was “garbage”,

“The whole “let’s parallelise” thing is a huge waste of everybody’s time. There is this huge body of “knowledge” that parallel is somehow more efficient, and that whole huge body is pure and utter garbage. Big caches are efficient. Parallel stupid small cores without caches are horrible unless you have a very specific load that is hugely regular,” Torvalds said.

He said that people want mobility, so “the crazies talking about scaling to hundreds of cores are just that – crazy. Why give them an ounce of credibility?”

Torvalds said that the only place where parallelism matters is in graphics or on the server side, where we already largely have it. Pushing it anywhere else is just pointless.

“End users are fine with roughly on the order of four cores, and you can’t fit any more anyway without using too much energy to be practical in that space. And nobody sane would make the cores smaller and weaker in order to fit more of them – the only reason to make them smaller and weaker is because you want to go even further down in power use, so you’d still not have lots of those weak cores,” Torvalds said.

Just in case you missed his subtle point he added: “Give it up. The whole “parallel computing is the future” is a bunch of crock.”

Needless to say there was a controlled and not-at-all-holiday-tipple-fuelled debate about this statement on various news groups. Most of it was about the language Torvalds used – and not just the swear words. The wonderful world of parallelisation is so complex that there are many words to describe different aspects about what it actually means and if you use the wrong ones then the grammar pedants will tear you to bits.

Generally though the feeling about Torvalds’s comments was that the it was not that parallelism which was to blame.  In theory it should all be wonderful.  But the software running it is still not up to snuff.


Dance helps girls win at computing

Image courtesy of Clemson UniversityWomen are under represented in the computer industry and now scientists at Clemson University have devised a way for girls to engage with IT.

The scientists are offering something called Virtual Environment Interactions aimed at blending dancing and programming for fifth and sixth grade girls in the USA.

Alison Leonard, a professor of education at Clemson, said the research: “will help young learners bootstrap their intuitive knowledge in order to programme a three dimensional character to perform movements.”

The method uses educational 3D software called Alice, and Leonard believes that executing software code or consecutive movements exist in both programming and choreography. “Likewise, loops or repeating a set of steps also occur in both contexts,” she said.

Students use the Alice software to create virtual characters to perform, based on their own dance movements.

Microsoft no longer Trustworthy

bad-dogSoftware King of the World, Microsoft thinks that it is Trustworthy Computing Group is surplus to requirements and is shutting the whole lot down.

Its role will be taken over either by the company’s Cloud and Enterprise Division or its Legal & Corporate Affairs group. The move will mean the death of the Microsoft Security Response Centre and the related functions – as well as the cybercrime unit.

So far Vole has not announced the move publically but it has been leaked to several blogs and, given that Microsoft is trying to save cash, is every likely to be true.

The idea is to integrate the Trustworthy Computing work into Microsoft’s engineering teams. Microsoft has confirmed that an unspecified number of jobs from the group will be cut.

Trustworthy Computing will be missed, at least by outsiders. For years, the TwC group at Microsoft played an important role in the security industry.

It was started in 2002, and appeared to make huge improvements to Volish security. It dealt with some hard security topics, and seemed to get security into Microsoft’s thought.

It did those things, however it was more PR and spin for outsiders. Microsoft insiders said that the unit was there to create the perception that Microsoft had a handle on security, while at the same time getting the experience it needed within its own divisions.

Microsoft walking away from it is part of the mind-set where enterprise desktops give way to cloud and mobile and ‘things’.


Big data ready for the big time

Godzilla: Big DataEnterprises have got off the fence about adoption in big data technologies with 73 percent of those surveyed saying they either have invest or will invest in big data in the next 24 years.

That’s according to some data from Gartner, which says the pack is being led by North America, with 47 percent of organisations saying they’d invested in 2014.

But while these organisations might be ready for the big data big time, IDC says that most work is in strategy and starting pilots and experimental projects.

Lisa Kart, a research director at IDC, said: “The most dramatic changes are in enhancing customer experience, especially in transportation, healthcare, insurance, media and communications, retail, and banking. Another area where we see an increase is using big data to develop information products, where organisations are looking to monetise their data. This is especially true among IT vendors, government and manufacturing.”

What is big data, though? It appears that some are still trying to understand what big data is.  Gartner says increasing data volume is understandable because it’s just a massive amount of data, and volume is easy because you just add storage and computing capacity.

Getting value is more difficult because of the variety of data and sources including social media feeds, machine and sensor data and free form text which all require analysing.

Tyan launches cheap, powerful server stuff

Tyan1Tyan has launched products aimed at people looking for powerful and cheap computing performance.

The server platform design manufacturer has shown off the Tyan TA77-B7061, its latest and flexible 2U GPU supported platform; the S7042, entry-level dual socket motherboard -GT62A-B5512 and the GT20A-B7040, the “cost-effective” 1U server at CeBIT.

The TA77-B7061 is said to help consumers who are looking for accelerated data-processing and efficient computing performance as a result of supporting up to four GPUs in a 2U server chassis, it is also said to save server and rack space through the use of Intel Xeon Phi processors, NVIDIA Tesla K20 Series and ATI FirePro.

The TA77-B7061 supports Intel’s Xeon E5-2600 Series Processors, (8+8) DDR-III R/U/LR-DIMM,  PCI-E x16 G3 slots, PCI-E x8 G3 slots,  GbE ports and 2.5” HDDs.

The S7042 motherboard is targeted at the SMB market, claiming to offer these sectors a cost-effective platform.  It is claimed to have multiple expansion slots and a cost-optimised dual socket motherboard designed for SMB and workstation environments.

Those looking for strong performance with a weak price tag are said to benefit from the GT62A-B5512 which is a one way 1U rackmount server, which is claimed to target nearline storage, and  bring down the cost of server deployment.