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Time to Brush Up your C/C++ Skills Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On Aug 23rd this year, there was news regarding how Microsoft had revolutionized computing by delivering an XBox with a CPU/GPU combo chip. As expected, there was a response from Intel with their combo chip announcement . . .

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-08/intel-to-show-off-new-chip-with-graphics-tackle-amd-challenge.html

AMD had already made a similar announcement on June 5th, 2010, but is yet to deliver a product.

Why should you take note?

Every piece of software ever written for CPUs only, which pretty much covers the whole spectrum today, will need to be rewritten for the new CPU/GPU era, with GPUs becoming the center of action.

So what should you do?

C/C++ is going to be back in fashion in a very big way. All developers will need to dust off their C/C++ knowledge since that will be the key skill that will help them survive in this new world featuring hundreds of cores.

This marks a new ‘golden age’ for computing: it resembles the time when the x86 was launched in 1978.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_8086

Posted by Srinivasan Balram | No Comments
Open Computing Language Programming is Mainstream! Friday, September 10, 2010

Open Computing Language (OpenCL) is a framework for writing programs that execute across heterogeneous platforms consisting of CPUs, GPUs, and other processors. OpenCL makes it possible to tap the vast computing power in the modern graphics processor and use it in general-purpose applications.

OpenCL = Nvidia/CUDA or ATI/Stream

Microsoft:
http://developer.nvidia.com/object/nsight.html
http://www.channelregister.co.uk/2010/07/22/nvidia_cuda_parallel_nsight/

Mac (Solid overview of OpenCL):
http://www.macresearch.org/opencl_episode1

See demo:
On a single core: 57 seconds
With 16 CPU threads: 4.76 seconds
With GPU/Open CL: 18 seconds

Posted by Srinivasan Balram | No Comments
Where Do BI’s Boundaries Lie? Friday, September 3, 2010

What are the areas that BI covers? It seems like this is a perennially big subject and is easy to get lost!

Well, the answer is not simple and I do not claim to know the right answer to this question. So let me throw the question right back at you. Consider the following 3 scenarios:

1. In exhibit 1, I bring you the work of Charles Minard (1781-1870), a French civil engineer. “His best-known work, Carte figurative des pertes successives en hommes de l’Armee Français dans la campagne de Russe 1812-13, dramatically displays the number of Napoleon’s soldiers by the width of an ever-reducing band drawn across a map from France to Moscow. At its origin, a wide band shows 442,000 soldiers left France, narrowing across several hundred miles to100,000 men reaching Moscow. With a parallel temperature graph displaying deadly frigid Russian winter temperatures along the way, the band shrinks during the retreat to a pathetic thin trickle of 10,000 survivors returning to their homeland”. Check http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/29/Minard.png

2. As exhibit 2, this article from the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/09/world/europe/20091109-berlinwallthennow.html), published on the 20th anniversary of the Berlin wall demolition, displays with its innovative photo mash-ups and adjoining commentary how life has changed for the better in unified Germany.

3. Finally, as exhibit set 3, let us move to sports. Check out the ubiquitous “worm” now well publicized in all televised cricket (http://www.cricinfo.com/zim-tri2010/engine/match/452150.html?view=graph) or the much more sophisticated Guardian Chalkboards (http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/chalkboards) that allow you to create your own interactive visualizations to analyze player/team performance. Finally, for those who followed the football (soccer) world cup – this was the mother of all planners (http://www.marca.com/deporte/futbol/mundial/sudafrica-2010/calendario-english.html )

Now, do any or all of the above, fall under the umbrella of business intelligence? Your answer is as good as mine. What I do know of Business Intelligence is that, like our major cities, its constantly grows, evolves and stretches it boundaries.

Posted by Rajesh Ramaswamy | No Comments
 
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