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The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

Making software follow hardware's footsteps

Phil De La Zerda
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Phil De La Zerda
The fast metamorphosing world of technology presents before developers a perennial problem: that of tying their software engineering skills to the over all hardware roadmap. Gone are the days when computer science was considered diametrically different from electrical engineering. The road ahead calls for a marriage of convenience between hardware and software. That alone can give a techie and even organizations a decisive head start.

Let me corroborate this with an example from what’s happening around us right now. Suddenly, the world seems to have woken up to multi-core processors, and hardware companies are on an accelerated path to develop them, lest they fall behind in competition.

According to market researchers at IDC, multi-core technology may be one of the most significant industry developments of the past 40 years. Given time, it will likely translate into a sort of paradigm shift for hardware, thus reigning in a buzzword already doing the rounds of the industry: parallelism.

What this would mean, in effect, for software developers is that they must understand the intricacies of parallel programming; While earlier, they were required to write processes that would result in serial execution, given that there was only one core, parallelism necessitates writing the software in a way so as to enable it to run various tasks in parallel, across two (and later multiple) cores.

To do this, developers need to identify the natural ‘modes of parallelism’ in an application, decipher which problems are appropriate for parallel decomposition and how functions might be re-factored so that different sections can run simultaneously. Following that, they will need to build a framework structured around the understanding, test it and optimize it.

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