Hardware’s in a really disruptive period right now, as we: (1) get more — but not faster — transistors (it’s the ‘end’ of Dennard scaling); and (2) move computing into sensors and other small devices in the Internet of Things. It’s all leading to specialization in hardware, from FPGAs to specialized processors and combinations.
So what does this mean for software? Well, we’ll need better system design and programming abstractions. But we’ll also need to embrace making these interfaces much more programmable — and by more people, with a programming model where you don’t have to be a PhD in computer science to use it.
Kathyrn McKinley is a principal researcher at Microsoft (and University of Texas at Austin professor) who focuses on programming language implementation; future architectures; and compilers that are a better match to current and future technology limits and constraints. This video was recorded as part of the a16z Academic Roundtable 2014.
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