TECHNOLOGY: Tera Computing

In February 2004, Pat Gelsinger – the CTO of Intel – presented some great inputs concerning the future developments in the field of processor during the last Intel Developer Forum.

Do we really need the increasing power of processors? – yes

Based on the experience made in the past, the increase in processor power is always used by / surpassed by innovation and new tecnologies. The offer is somewhat creating the demand, as with Microsoft products.

Incredible volume of digital data

The volume of digital data is already today surpassing the volume of non-digital data (study from Berkeley in 2003). Almost all new data are digital ones. Some figures to illustrate this:

  • 1 petabytes = 1 PB = 10^15 bytes = 1’000 TB = 1’000’000 GB
  • 1 exabytes = 1 EB = 1’000 PB
  • Internet represents today about 530 PB
  • The WWW itself: 170 PB
  • For saving one year of telephone callsm, you need 17 EB
  • For saving your personal lifetime medical record, you need about 4 EB
  • Not enough?

    Personally, I have:

  • More than 8’000 digital pictures and more than 80 GB of personal digital movies (in 2 years). And I’m sure, a lot of people have really more than that!!
  • I have at home more than 630 GB HD.

    => This huge amount of digital data – “Era of Tera” – requests high-efficient IT computing.

    Architecture of high-efficient computing

    Till today, the existing systems are constrained to use different algorithms and architectures to be able to be “efficient”. On the opposite, the new requests due to the “Era of Tera” can be defined by three general charateristics:

  • Teraflops of processing
  • High data bandwidth
  • Efficient execution and / or adaptation to variable workload requirements
  • => These new common characteristics will allow a common definition of one new unique architecture which will be able to compute the Tera-requests.

    Performance development

    How can we define performance in the field of processor?

    In the past, there was a clear concentration on speed increase, although some architectural improvements also appeared (hyper-threading, MMX technology, etc.). Some major obstacles are appearing now with frequencies increases and size of transistors decreases:

  • power will be a limiting factor
  • memory latency (the difference between the frequency speed of memory and processor is permanently increasing)
  • scalar performance is more and more an issue: instructions per clock trend down with the increase of frequency
  • Consequently:

    – performance increase has mainly to come from architectural innovations (rather than frequency increase)

    – or disruptive change in the processor technology (eg.: photonic computing)


    “A massively multicore architecture in which each core has multiple threads of execution with minimal memory latency, resistance-capacitance interconnect delay, and controlled thermal activity is needed to deliver teraflop performance”.

    NEWS: productivity growth, IT as a competitive advantage

    Two interesting articles from the Knowledge@Wharton (free subscription) and the MIT Technology Review about:

    productivity growth in the last years

    – the usage of IT as a competitive advantage.

    Three short abstracts:

  • US labor productivity grew by:
  • – 1.4% from the 70s into the 90s

    – 2.5% since 1995

    – 4% since 2001.

  • It takes about 50 years for living standards to double if productivity grows at 1.4%, only 18 years to double at 4% growth.
  • A century ago, an exciting technology – electricity – was being introduced. by itself, electricity did nothing for productivity. It took 40 years for businesses to find out ways to use it efficiently and to change their processes.
  • BLOG: new php version of my weblog, now with comments :-)

    i’ve created finally a comment functionality in my blog :-)

    and without moving away from blogger, thanx to a “tool” from Holker Kreis! Holker is publishing his tool called Blogkomm as a freeware (current release: v1.6, used for my weblog: v1.7 beta). this tool is actually a set of php and css files, which can be integrated in your existing blogger’s blog. quite well documented, but you have to know something about css and php to be able to customize it a bit. for the functionalities, let’s see on my weblog, or the one of Holker ;-)

    thx to Holker for his great job!

    BLOG: on heavy rotation

    Already a new CD entry (right column)! It’s about a limited edition of the last great Placebo’s CD – Sleeping with ghosts.

    In this limited edition, you will find a bonus CD with 10 amazing and unexpected covers. Some examples:

    – Running Up That Hill (Kate Bush)

    – Where Is My Mind (The Pixies)

    – Johnny And Mary (Robert Palmer)

    – I Feel You (Depeche Mode)

    – and … Daddy Cool (Boney M) :-)

    Really great and interesting!!

    NEWS: EU’s fine against Microsoft

    Three figures as a summary:

    – fine: $613 million

    – fine in % of Microsoft’s revenues (2002-03): 2%

    – available cash by MS: $52 billion (!!)

    So, I think that the problem for MS is not really the money (no charity subscription needed ;-), but more a strategic one. Difficult to accept that somebody else can impose which components can be integrated in the Operating System, and which cannot be. Media Player, in this field, could be just the first example of a long list of imposed changes…. Is this change interesting for us, for the end-consumers? Not really sure…

    Who really likes/wants to play video or listen to music with a RealPlayer?? Real product challengers can win market shares (eg. Winamp) because they are really good products for the consumers.

    BLOG: on heavy rotation

    I have added a “On heavy rotation” section (right column of the blog, under the “Contact” section). I will put here some audio CDs and / or DVDs I’m listenning to these days. I’ve started with an interesting CD from a French Parisian DJ called Stéphane Pompougnac and his sixth “Hôtel Costes” compilation. What is this Hôtel? The Hotel Costes, in the heart of Paris near the ultra-chic Place Vendome, is the place to be seen for top models, rock stars and film stars from around the world. The Costes brothers have been careful to make the music in the hotel an integral part of its special charm. Stéphane Pompougnac plays a selection of lounge tracks.

    TOOLS: Groove v3.0 (beta)

    Steve Gillmor had an interview with Ray Ozzie, the CEO of Groove, about the new functionalities of the third version of this collaboration tool in an eWeek’s article. They talked together about the following issues:

    – notification features

    – the Groove File Sharing integrated in the explorer

    – (RSS) aggregation and publication

    – “zero-IT aspect”

    – Longhorn as a threat

    – virtual office & the positioning of Groove

    Let’s have a look.

    BUSINESS: three good news concerning Skype!

    On March, 2, I published a blog concerning Skype, a P2P net-phoning service, which works really great (excellent sound quality, ease of use, no firewall – routeur – NAT configuration required). We are using this tool intensively since then, and our experience is very good. You cannot imagine the positive impact on costs :-)

    One anecdote: the two founders of this voice over IP (VoIP) company are Zennstrom & Friis, well-known as the founders of…KaZaA!

    Now, let’s talk about business and strategy:

    1) Skype announced a new investment of $19 million (this money is coming from two investors, one of them is Index Ventures, which is also investing in….MySql), to be able to finance the link between this VoIP tool and the traditional phone network. Skype will buy a huge amount of minutes by traditional telephone carriers, and sell them to their clients with a “premium-service”.

    2) Skype will announce a deal with a major European cordless home phone maker which will integrate Skype in its phones.

    3) Skype will furthermore announce a partnership with Pantronics, a maker of headsets for office and home phones.