The Challenge of the Multicores

Friday, March 12th 2010, 10:30am
301 Building, Room 102


Computers have traditionally used complex "cores" to manage and execute computations and, over the years, these computers have achieved ever increasing levels of performance. However fundamental limitations of size, heat and energy have emerged. To overcome these limitations complex cores are being displaced by multicores that are not only simpler and more numerous but can be used more flexibly. So what is the challenge?

Multicore computers are ushering in a new era of parallelism everywhere. As more cores are available, the potential performance of the system can increase at the traditional rate by the use of the inherent parallelism. Or can it? How will users and applications take advantage of all the parallelism? This talk will review some of the history of languages and compilers for high performance systems and consider opportunities for performance on multicore systems. The talk is intended to encourage the exploration of new approaches including how users will continue to code sequential for parallel systems.

Speaker Bio

Fran Allen's specialty is compilers and program optimization for high performance computers. Soon after joining IBM Research as a programmer in 1957 with a University of Michigan masters degree in mathematics, Fran found the technical goal that would drive her career: Enable both programmer productivity and program performance in the development of computer applications. One outcome of her work is that Fran received ACM's 2006 Turing Award "For pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of optimizing compiler techniques that laid the foundation for modern optimizing compilers and automatic parallel execution."

Fran is a member of the American Philosophical Society and the National Academy of Engineers, and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, ACM, IEEE, and the Computer History Museum. Fran holds several honorary doctorate degrees and has served on numerous national technology boards. Fran is an active mentor, an advocate for technical women in computing, an environmentalist and an explorer.