[erlang-questions] FPGA coming around the corner

Edmond Begumisa <>
Fri Jan 7 14:29:38 CET 2011


On Fri, 07 Jan 2011 20:45:13 +1100, Joe Armstrong <> wrote:

> On Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 5:40 AM, Edmond Begumisa
> <> wrote:
>>> If the time is to come, then surely this is the *right time* for the
>>> Erlang/OTP 'product' to step up and meet the challenges and mindset  
>>> that
>>> bind us daily owing to the chosen OO style forced onto us by C++/Java.
>>
>> On a related note: I'm curious -- why is it that many seem unaware of
>> Erlang's advantages with multi-core? Even vocal MP experts that are
>> advocating for the change in mindset you describe and the need for
>> programmers to be aware of the disconnect and quickly adapt -- these
>> advocates don't sound like they're aware of Erlang (at least they don't
>> mention Erlang in their talks).
>
> Reminds me of a weird meeting at work a few weeks ago:
>
> They: But why doesn't it go 60 times faster (on a tile64) - it's
>           only 40 times faster?
> Me:    Well are you happy about the times 40 or sad about the fact it's
>           not 60?
> They: Well happy, but it would be nice if it were 60
> Me:    We're working on it
>
> Our domain of discourse, is "why we don't get a factor N speedup on
> N processors" - my feeling is that in many places the domain of
> discourse is "how can we go faster than times one on two processors
> and not slower"
>
>
>>
>> A blog post recently alerted me to a talk Maurice Herlihy gave back in  
>> 2007
>> entitled "Taking Concurrency Seriously: New Directions in Multiprocessor
>> Synchronization."
>>
>> http://www.stanford.edu/class/ee380/Abstracts/070502.html
>> http://ee380.stanford.edu/cgi-bin/videologger.php?target=070509-ee380-300.asx
>>
>> To quote him "... Computer architecture is about to undergo, if not  
>> another
>> revolution, then a vigorous shaking-up. The major chip manufacturers  
>> have,
>> for the time being, simply given up trying to make processors run  
>> faster...
>> As a result, system designers and software engineers can no longer rely  
>> on
>> increasing clock speed to hide software bloat. Instead, they must  
>> somehow
>> learn to make effective use of increasing parallelism. This adaptation  
>> will
>> not be easy. Conventional synchronization techniques based on locks and
>> conditions are unlikely to be effective in such a demanding  
>> environment..."
>>
>> He then goes on the show some pretty fancy Java code illustrating  
>> concurrent
>> data structures and a concept he calls "transactional boosting" in an
>> attempt to deal with the disconnect without burdening the programmer  
>> "too
>> much."
>>
>> There are a number of more recent talks on that Standford page with the  
>> same
>> tone...
>>
>> http://www.stanford.edu/class/ee380/previous.html
>>
>> They all sound panic-stricken and suggest there is currently no complete
>> viable solution out-there yet to programming for the multi-core age that
>> don't burden the programmer. These are some very smart people. But when  
>> I
>> saw these videos recently I thought "Have they not heard of Erlang? If  
>> not
>> why not?"
>
> This question is asked to the the wrong group.

Very nice answer! Maybe you should send them that chapter from your book :)

- Edmond -

>  I guess most people in
> this group know that Erlang is (according to the wikipedia)
>
> "a Chinese God with a third truth-seeing eye in the middle of his  
> forehead."
>
> /Joe
>
>
>
>>
>> - Edmond -
>>
>>
>> On Fri, 07 Jan 2011 13:41:14 +1100, Steve Davis
>> <> wrote:
>>
>>>
>>> A very interesting article... and all the more interesting because it
>>> lines up with Joe's predictions.
>>>
>>>
>>> http://www.kurzweilai.net/scientists-squeeze-more-than-1000-cores-onto-computer-chip
>>>
>>>  > “FPGAs are not used within standard computers because they are  
>>> fairly
>>>  > difficult to program, but their processing power is huge while their
>>>  > energy consumption is very small because they are so much quicker,  
>>> so
>>>  > they are also a greener option,” said researcher Dr. Wim
>>>  > Vanderbauwhede.
>>>
>>>  > While most computers sold today now contain more than one processing
>>>  > core, which allows them to carry out different processes
>>>  > simultaneously, traditional multi-core processors must share access
>>>  > to one memory source, which slows the system down. The scientists in
>>>  > this research were able to make the processor faster by giving each
>>>  > core a certain amount of dedicated memory.
>>>
>>> If the time is to come, then surely this is the *right time* for the
>>> Erlang/OTP 'product' to step up and meet the challenges and mindset  
>>> that
>>> bind us daily owing to the chosen OO style forced onto us by C++/Java.
>>>
>>> /s
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>>
>>
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>
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