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Here's the multi-core man coding robots, 3-D worlds and Wall Street

Kunle Olukotun gets pervasive

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Radio Reg "You have to do some really good work and become famous."

That's what Stanford President John Hennessy said would be required if then associate professor Kunle Olukotun wanted to secure tenure. So, Olukotun set after that goal with some ground-breaking work in the field of multi-core processors. His research helped form the basis of Afara Websystems' multi-core chip. Sun Microsystems then acquired Afara, and the rest is history. Olukotun got his tenure.

Or maybe the rest isn't history. After all, Afara simply kicked off a wave of multi-core processors. Sun led with the Afara-based Niagara line of processors, and now every major chip company has both "regular" multi-core chips and research underway into far more radical designs.

These processors present immense challenges to software developers most accustomed to writing code for single-core chips.

In Episode 18 of Semi-Coherent Computing, I sat down with Olukotun to talk about his life, his work and his vision for computing's future.

As head of Stanford's new Pervasive Parallelism Lab, Olukotun is looking to create software tools that will make it easier for programmers to embrace multi-core chips. He and other researchers will focus on building development environments for 3-D worlds, robots and massive server-side applications. With any luck, the Stanford work - funded by the likes of IBM, Intel, AMD, Nvidia, Sun and HP - will help coders tackle chips with 100 cores or more.

Anyway, have a listen. I give you one of the fathers of multi-core chips.

Semi-Coherent Computing - Episode 18

Open source types can get Ogged and Vorbed here, those plagued by low-bandwidth can catch a smaller, crappier quality show here or a monster-sized show here.

You can also grab the show off iTunes here or subscribe to the show via this feed.

Sorry, as always, for taking so long between shows. I am once again renewing my vow to post shows with more frequency. Your brutal e-mails on this point are appreciated.

Thanks for your ears! ®

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