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Intel rallies rivals on parallel programming education

Sequential is so over

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Intel has enlisted chip rivals to push for making parallel programming a higher priority on computer science courses.

Intel will kick-off its campaign at Supercomputing 08 in Austin, Texas next week, during a Monday session called There Is No More Sequential Programming. Why Are We Still Teaching It?.

Representatives from AMD, Nvidia, and Sun Microsystems will join Intel along with individuals from academia and the open source movement to discuss how the industry can get universities to break with their attachment to traditional sequential programming.

The panel will also be used to set up a working group that "will develop and recommend a practical means for creating an undergraduate curriculum with parallelism at its core", Intel said.

Intel said a shift to parallel programming is essential given that "all major manufacturers have moved to a many core architecture and current generation CPU, GPU or ASIC designs cannot be efficiently programmed without knowledge of parallel programming".

No one, of course, is arguing about the need for strategies to deal with programming multiprocessor chip architectures. There is, however, some controversy over how this should be achieved.

Intel favors multi-threading and has pushed its Threading Building Blocks (TBB) technology as its answer. Some academics have, though, argued that multithreading is not the way forward.

Next Monday's discussion looks set to be interesting. Intel has posted a set of questions submitted by some unidentified participants and disagreement is already evident.

Some think this is "too hard" a subject to teach while others believe sequential programming is a prerequisite for parallel programming. Those who cannot make it to Austin can register here for a Webinar later in the week. ®

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