Computing Community Consortium Blog

The goal of the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) is to catalyze the computing research community to debate longer range, more audacious research challenges; to build consensus around research visions; to evolve the most promising visions toward clearly defined initiatives; and to work with the funding organizations to move challenges and visions toward funding initiatives. The purpose of this blog is to provide a more immediate, online mechanism for dissemination of visioning concepts and community discussion/debate about them.

“The March of Technology”

July 25th, 2011 / in big science, computer history, conference reports, research horizons / by Erwin Gianchandani

John Hennessy, Stanford UniversityAt the recent “Computation and the Transformation of Practically Everything” symposium commemorating MIT’s 150th anniversary celebration, Stanford President John Hennessy stepped through the history of computer architecture, with an eye toward the future — including multicore and multithreading (fine-grained vs. simultaneous).

I’m going to try to both take a look backward and then a look forward and talk about what the implications are. “The March of Technology” is indeed a good “uber-title” for this type of talk, because it really is about the dramatic changes and about the inflection point that we passed through, and what some of those inflections are.


Let’s face it: most of the world is not going to use computers the way those of us in my generation have used computers. I started on actually paper tape and punchcards for a little while, and then moved to time-sharing — but, most of that time with a computer that was at least on my desk and not physically movable.


The next generation is going to be using [smartphones] to access the Internet — and that’s the way they’re going to operate. We’ve already got this incredible inflection point coming in 2012. It may actually move up into 2011 because [of] the rapid acceleration of tablets — and if you put tablets with smartphones… then we may actually get the crossover in 2011. And desktops are fading in this whole picture…


That means the growth in CPUs is actually being driven by that low end, plus of course this enormous consumption of computers in the cloud as we build these giant, warehouse-scaled computers that are providing much of the storage, backup, content, [and] information for the web.


So what happens now?

Find out the answer, plus hear Hennessy’s research challenge to the next generation of computer scientists, after the jump…

…starting at 23:45 into the video:




And still more excellent talks from the MIT150 Symposium are available right here.

(Contributed by Erwin Gianchandani, CCC Director)

“The March of Technology”