Traditional programming has hit the power wall
April 13, 2011 // By Eric Verhulst and Bernhard Sputh
A recent article in EE-Times Europe states that computing has hit a power wall. Indeed, chip designers spoiled programmers in the past with ever increasing amount of compute cycles and memory space to waste. This has led to great new features, which we all would like to keep, however the way we program these hardware monsters has not really changed.
Yes compilers have become better in optimising code, but everything after has stayed the same. The linking phase of C / C++ programs is still largely a brute force operation, including everything the program might need and very often code that never will be executed. This leads to enormously bloated programs, that have to be:
- stored in non-volatile storage, and
- in the RAM of the system that execute them.
A simple Hello World might need a few Mbytes and links in 10000s of functions. While this is less of an issue in desktop type systems, due to them having ample of cheap (D)RAM available and reasonably sized caches, the latter is not true for embedded systems, which represent the ever growing bulk of computer driven systems on the planet.
Needing a lot of (D)RAM does not only cost money, but also energy, because (D)RAM needs to be continuously refreshed and operates often with 100s of wait states compared with the superfast GHz CPUs. Thus this becomes part of the power wall we are currently hitting. And to follow Moores law, the only way forward is more parallel processing cores on the same die, even if that doesnt increase the access speed to the external (D)RAM. In the end, chips are pin-bound. Performance is cache bound on such chips and therefore code size still matters.
However this is only a side line of the real problem that developers hit today, when trying to exploit the parallelism. First of all the approach used today with threading is a difficult to get right approach, due to the state-space exploding easily beyond what a single developer can keep in his head, and traditional testing cannot cope with this. The situation is worsened by the fact that most thread synchronisation mechanisms are hard to get right. However, there is good news.All news
Driverless car sharing concept focuses on digital comfort
March 07, 2014
A glimpse to future urban individual mobility provides a prototype of a vehicle designed by engineering company MBtech. Link ...
Automated SSL test system authenticates LED technology performance
Paper-thin ultracapacitor aims to boost Li-ion battery performance
Apple set to transform sapphire industry in 2014
FTDI reveals streaming instruction behind new 32bit architecture
AMD taps UK tool for video verification
March 06, 2014
AMD is using a verification tool from the UK to test its latest video processors.
UHF RFID the radio technology of choice for Industry 4.0
Fairchild acquires body motion capture firm Xsens
GaN transistors promise more light for less energy
- DSM presents: Select the best plastic for DDR4
- Wireless Sensor Network Challenges and Solutions
- Putting FPGAs to Work in Software Radio Systems Handbook
- Real-Time Spectrum Analysis for Troubleshooting 802.11n/ac WLAN Devices
InterviewWi-Fi is open for business, which is good news for mobile subscribers
Following the news that Netgear has built a Facebook-linked amenity Wi-Fi option into its routers, enabling businesses to offer free Wi-Fi in return for liking the company Facebook page, David Nowicki, ...
Filter WizardCheck out the Filter Wizard Series of articles by Filter Guru Kendall Castor-Perry which provide invaluable practical Analog Design guidelines.
Linear video channel
READER OFFERRead more
This month, Freescale is giving away ten RIoTboards, worth 74 dollars each, for EETimes Europe's readers to win.
Designed to run Android operating systems efficiently or to run under Linux, the board is based on the Freescale i.MX 6Solo processor; using the ARM Cortex-A9 architecture.
And the winner is...
In our previous reader offer, Crystal Display was giving...Read more
December 15, 2011 | Texas instruments | 222901974
Unique Ser/Des technology supports encrypted video and audio content with full duplex bi-directional control channel over a single wire interface.