An interview with Hennessy and Patterson

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Mike over at Thinking Parallel blog posts a pointer to an interview in the ACM Queue with John Hennessy and David Patterson, authors of Computer Architecture: A Quantitative Approach (as if you didn’t already know that).

Anyway, the interview covers their thoughts on parallelism and changes in modern computer architecture that are delivering parallelism to everyone’s desktop. The conversation focuses largely on the impact of parallelism on every day software, not the stuff at our end of the spectrum, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Mike pulled several choice quotes from the interview. Here are two that I liked:

Architecture is interesting again. From my perspective, parallelism is the biggest challenge since high-level programming languages. It’s the biggest thing in 50 years because industry is betting its future that parallel programming will be useful.

Industry is building parallel hardware, assuming people can use it. And I think there’s a chance they’ll fail since the software is not necessarily in place. So this is a gigantic challenge facing the computer science community. If we miss this opportunity, it’s going to be bad for the industry.