From Old to New

I was hunting and pecking around looking to see what is happening in the industry as I do probably too regularly (I really got to get some code done…). At any rate, I ran across some slide shows that ZDNet were showing on old computers. I still remember the buzz and excitement us young geeks had as computers hit our neighbourhood streets. I don’t think I’ll ever see something like it again.

Anyway, one of the pictures was of the first computer I ever typed a program into. It was an HP-85 (click here for the real site that ZDNet borrows the pictures from) that my best friend’s dad used at his work for the Fisheries Department at Government of Manitoba office in town. And it was where it all started for me and it was cool to see the picture. Yeah the thing had a tiny screen and a proprietary CPU, but it did speak BASIC and I remember being excited trying to figure it out.

Of course that is contrast to the latest computer, or at least processor, that caught my eye, Tilera’s TILE64, a monster 64-core machine organized as a System-on-Chip (SoC, peripheral interfaces included). It especially sparked my interest because of the market it’s trying to address, embedded systems for video and advanced networking. Intel can go on about their server and desktop monster multi-core machines, but there is a real need in the embedded space for this technology too. I can imagine some pretty wicked things that embedded devices could do with automation and robotics and such with this kind of horse power.

But as with all monster multi-core machines coming out, I still think we need a better way to program them so that we don’t get lost in the complexity of getting our programs to do multiple things at exactly the same time. Hell, I spent a good part of the last couple of days solving a deadlock issue in the CDT, and that was just two threads colliding…