With the extremely rapid pace that computer technology grows at, it's no surprise that many software developers in the world aren't able to properly design software for the latest and greatest hardware. While some may be lucky enough to work with companies with large financial backing, many are simply unable to get ahold of the latest technology. Most recently, that's been seen a lot when it comes to multi-core technology. We're talking about large-scale, though, with systems that have 64 processors and more, though to a degree it applies to nearly all software. It was interesting to me to see this recent article about a relatively cheap multicore platform called RAMP that offers performance better than what you can get out of pocket. A developers playground, if you will, that at a price tag of $100,000 to $200,000 comes a lot cheaper than the multi-million dollar supercomputers that many companies rely on. The article makes a good summation of why this project is good:
Software designers tend to be reluctant to begin writing complex code before plenty of hardware arrives to handle their applications. Such a strategy won't work out well in the context of the multi-core shift, according to Patterson. Those used to seeing performance increases in their code via GHz hikes will suffer from under-performing code that struggles to make its way across numerous, low-power chips. And we're talking about a problem that affects algorithms, programming languages, compilers, operating systems and libraries.
The RAMP project relies on much slower hardware, using 200MHz CPUs, but supposedly can still deliver accurate performance results. It has many backers, including players like IBM. If you want to read more about the RAMP project, read their site.