Future Directions for Optimizing Compilers

I wanted to write a manifesto-ish sort of piece about what compilers are supposed to look like in the future. Nuno was the obvious coauthor since I’ve talked to him about this topic so much that I’m overall not really sure which parts started out as his ideas and which were mine. The article didn’t […]

Is the Browser the New OS?

Yes, this is an old question. I still think it’s interesting. Disclaimer: I haven’t tried out a Chromebook yet. First, let’s look at the situation as of late 2012. The applications I use generally fall into three categories: Web-based. Native, but easily available on Windows, Mac, and Linux. These include a file browser, a shell, Emacs, […]

Core Question

[This post is about machines used by people. I realize things are different in the server room.] We had one core per socket for a long time. When multi-cores came along, dual core seemed pretty awkward: real concurrency was possible, but with speedup bounded above by two, there wasn’t much point doing anything trickier than […]

Discovering New Instructions

Sometimes I wonder what instruction sets are supposed to look like. That is, what instructions would there be if computers were redesigned by smart people who understood our fabrication capabilities and who knew what we wanted to accomplish using computers, but who didn’t care about backwards compatibility and who haven’t seen our architectures? We can […]

Towards Tinkers

The heroes of Vernor Vinge’s The Peace War are members of a scattered society of tinkers who — without any real industrial base — manage to develop and produce very high-tech devices including fast, small computers. I’m trying to figure out how realistic this is. The software side seems entirely feasible. Today’s open source community has […]