When talking to folks about tera-scale computing research or the 80-core research chip, the question inevitably arises as to what general users would really be able to do with “supercomputer-level” performance in a desktop, let alone a mobile device. And it’s a fair question. Gaming aside, if I think about the apps I use day to day at work — office apps, a 5 year old photo editing program, web browsers, etc — it’s hard to imagine needing much more performance than I have.Of course, I’m falling into the common habit of assuming that the future is simply a linear projection of what we have today, when we know that technology moves in leaps an bounds. The GUI was such a leap in the 80s, and the Internet in the 90s. I beleive we’re in the middle of such a leap right now in terms of mobility, and I’d say more but I’d have to talk at length about the iPhone, which 10,000 bloggers before me have already covered. (Though I did finally try one this weekend. Nice…..) The leap I’m looking forward to is what we call in the labs “model-based computing.” It means giving computers real analytical capabilities and the ability to accurately represent reality. Rather than blog on about it, here’s an animation to show what I mean (click here for the high quality flash version or the video window below). So, I know this sounds a lot like AI. And we’ve heard about AI for decades now with limited results. So, why would it be different now? The answer is multi-core. Like the human brain itself, these intelligent apps lend themselves to parallel processing. 80-cores would change the game in a broader sense than just hardware — it will enable new application possiblities. Model-based computing is a broad topic. For us, it covers things from financial modeling to sorting photos to virtual reality. The point is, we are doing the architecture research to enable a new leap in technology capability. We are looking into some specific applications ourselves, but in the end we want to enable the apps that you want. So, what would you do with 80 cores? -Sean
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