Tuesday Keynote
Computing without Processors

Satnam Singh, Technical Infrastructure division, Google, USA

Abstract: The duopoly of computing has up until now been delimited by drawing a line in the sand that defines the instruction set architecture as the hard division between software and hardware. On one side of this contract Intel improved the design of processors and on the other side of this line Microsoft developed ever more sophisticated software. This cozy relationship is now over as the distinction between hardware and software is blurred due to relentless pressure for performance and reduction in latency and energy consumption. Increasingly we will be forced to compute with architectures and machines which do not resemble regular processors with a fixed memory hierarchy based on heuristic caching schemes. Other ways to bake all that sand will include the evolution of GPUs and FPGAs to form heterogeneous computing resources which are much better suited to meeting our computing needs than racks of multicore processors. This presentation will highlight some of the programming challenges we face when trying to develop for heterogeneous architectures and a few promising lines of attack are identified.

Speaker: Prof. Singh works in the Technical Infrastructure division of Google in Mountain View, California and focuses on the configuration management of Google's data-center services. Previously Prof. Singh worked on the design of heterogeneous systems at Microsoft Research in Cambridge UK and on parallel programming techniques at Microsoft's Developer Division in Redmond USA. He has also worked on re-configurable computing and formal verification at Xilinx in San Jose, California and as an academic at the University of Glasgow. He also currently holds a part-time position as the Chair of Reconfigurable Systems at the University of Birmingham.