Feeds

David May, parallel processing pioneer

We salute the architect of the Transputer

Top three mobile application threats

Footnote or stepping stone?

When Inmos was sold to Thorn EMI under the privatising Thatcher government in the mid-80s, and later to SGS Thomson, Transputer development continued, but was eventually abandoned.

The end of an era? It's not so easy to kill the Hydra-headed Transputer. The site of the original Inmos design centre in Bristol is now owned by STMicroelectronics. It is ablaze with engineering talent nurtured under Inmos.

Transputer test module

Source: Ram Meenakshisundaram/Inmos.com

"They're developing products that are turning over more than a billion dollars a year," says May. "And have been for the last decade. It's the biggest Silicon Valley in Europe in terms of design capability. It's all there because of this huge expertise in processor technology."

Other companies like Infineon, Element 14 and Icera have mushroomed from the same Bristol talent base, as has May's own university spin-off, XMOS, that perpetuates the Transputer idea in low-cost microcontrollers.

So Inmos paid off in UK job creation. But in these days of ever faster Intel-style processors, who remembers the technology?

Occam programming guide

Source: PCPuter.com

Roger Shepherd was one of graduates who worked with May in the Inmos days. Now director of processor design at STmicroelectronics, he sees the ideas around the Transputer coming back into relevance. "Most PCs today have two or four cores," he says. "How to program for multicore systems is one of today's key challenges. People are now asking the same sorts of questions we were trying to answer at Inmos 30 years ago. They are trying to solve real problems that Occam overcame."

Iann Barron, now in his mid-seventies, looks back on Inmos as a venture deferred rather than defeated. He likens the Transputer to Babbage's mechanical computing engines, devised in the 19th Century, their significance not appreciated for more than 50 years after his death. "People will eventually see what we were talking about, and they'll say, 'yes, well, they did it'." ®

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

More from The Register

next story
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
Leaked pics show EMBIGGENED iPhone 6 screen
Fat-fingered fanbois rejoice over Chinternet snaps
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
US mobile firms cave on kill switch, agree to install anti-theft code
Slow and kludgy rollout will protect corporate profits
Rounded corners? Pah! Amazon's '3D phone has eye-tracking tech'
Now THAT'S what we call a proper new feature
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.