Microsoft and Intel Give $20M for Multicore Software

The University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign will be the recipients of $20 million in research grants from Microsoft and Intel over the next five years to further the use of multicore chips, the four said today. On the conference call detailing the funds and unveiling computing research centers on each school’s campus, we got to hear about all the whiz-bang consumer applications that parallel computing will enable such as personal health monitors and the ability to create a digital personal assistant that resides on a cell phone.

Multicore chips are comprised of two or more CPUs on a single chip. To take advantage of multiple cores, software must be written in such a way that instructions can be split up and delivered to each core at the same time. On the call, researchers from Intel and Microsoft asked researchers to develop software that will be able to better take advantage of the multicore chips that currently reside in servers and in gaming consoles, and are destined for even more devices.

The push to take multicore architecture into a myriad of consumer devices, from laptops to cell phones, also signals a shift in the chip industry’s focus on Moore’s Law, which states that the number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months, to the idea of putting more chips to work as a way to increase speed. The researchers on the conference call proposed that Moore’s Law could accelerate as a result of parallel computing, which is true as long as we tweak the law to allow for more transistors on more chips. Maybe we should call it the More Law.

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