Wednesday Oct 15, 2008

Chip Multi-Threading, Cooking and the Anatomy of a Viral Video

Here's a fun video about chip multi-threading, explained through cooking:

The Story

For those of you who don't speak German: Ingo, the hero of this movie, wants to cook German roulades. He uses his hands as registers, while his table serves as a level 1 cache. The instruction cache is his brain, where the recipe resides. Soon, he reaches the point at which it says: "Pour red wine into the pan". There's no red wine in the registers, no wine in the L1 cache, so he needs to ask his memory subsystem: "Hooooney, would you mind bringing me a bottle of Merlot from the basement, pleaaaase?"

While "honey", the memory subsystem, is busy bringing wine, Ingo explains that at this point, there's no difference whether he stirs the dish at 1.4 GHz, or at 4.5 GHz (this is the piece where his stirring gets frantic). Actually, he'd rather use his precious time to do other useful things with what he has in L1 cache already, for example cook dumplings, or prepare dessert. That would indeed help a lot in getting dinner ready sooner, even while waiting for "honey" to bring some wine.

And that is the whole point of chip multi-threading.

Now, imagine 8 Ingos, each with two hands (think pipelines) and doing 4 dishes per hand (read: threads). What a feast!

CMT Cooking Going Viral

I first saw Ingo giving this presentation in February, during Sun Germany's Partner University event. It was hilarious, the whole  room was laughing and we knew he needed to do it again. So, with the help of a few people, Ingo and Ulrike created this fun video.

They posted it on YouTube in July and we featured it on one episode of the HELDENFunk podcast for German system admins. Soon, Ingo reached a few hundred downloads and we thought: "Cool, we have a new fun video to share!"

Then, Alex Wunschel, aka the "Podpimp", one of the more well-known podcasters in Germany and a listener of the HELDENFunk podcast, twittered about Ingo's memory subsystem called "Schatz!" (the German equivalent of "honey"). That was even cooler.

Then, Thomas Knüwer saw Alex' Tweet, and blogged about it. On the "Handelsblatt" blog. Think something like "Fortune" Magazine in German. And he got 14 comments. Gulp. 

The result: Ingo's views skyrocketed, soon he was in the thousands, and last time I checked, he had more than 13,500 views, for a 3.5 minute video about chip multi-threading and a memory subsystem called "honey". Nice!

Today, Alec and I chatted about Ingo's video and apparently, he liked it very much. Well, I guess Ingo can start counting again. This time, english speaking viewers, too. Have fun!

Would you like Ingo to dub his video in English? Or do you prefer the German version? Just drop a comment below! 

Friday Nov 02, 2007

Getting Ready for TS Ambassador Conference 2007

Tomorrow, I'll be flying to San Francisco for the annual Technical Systems (TS) Ambassador Conference. I just packed my stuff, including my trusty favourite gadgets, excluding for the very first time, my Palm. I've been using the Nokia E61i as a PDA substitute for a week and this is going to be the stress test.

The TS Ambassadors are a group of Sun System Engineers (SEs) from all around the world who are specialized in CPU and Systems Technologies, HPC and Grid Computing, Workstations, Visualization and other interesting tech stuff that keeps the computer scientist in me stimulated, including a growing amount of storage related topics, such as Thumper and Honeycomb, although there is a separate Data Management Ambassador group.

During our annual conference, we listen to what our colleagues in engineering and corporate are up to, and we give feedback based on what we experience with our customers, thereby providing a two-way know-how transfer between Sun's field organization and Sun's product groups.

Like last year, I'm going to grab some co-ambassadors after each day and drag them into a room to record a daily TS Ambassador podcast. If you're inside SWAN, stay tuned for the announcement. My Zoom H2 will be my trusty portable recording studio, just like during the CEC 2007 podcasts.

But before we start with the conference on Monday, my colleague Roland and I registered for a special event that happened to be scheduled this sunday: The Foresight Vision Weekend. This unconference is going to address some fascinating topics including Nanotechnology, Artificial Intelligence, Space Development and Settlement, Synthetic Biology and other topics of the not so long-term, but utterly exciting future. Let me know if you happen to be there, too, and stay tuned for a conference update on this blog.

Friday Mar 30, 2007

25 Years of Sun History in the Middle of Germany

Sun 1-100If you happen to be near Frankfurt, Germany, stop by the Sun Frankfurt office in Langen. It hosts the Sunopsis Computer Museum, which is run by our colleague Rüdiger in his free time.

Sunopsis consists of a collection of nearly all systems that Sun has built since it's foundation as well as an exhibition, an online-reference, a material-, document- and software archive. Additional highlights of Sunopsis are the nearly complete Cobalt history and prototypes of Sun systems that didn't make it to a real product. It is the only known museum in the world that can tell the history of Sun in such a compelling way.

Here are some impressions from the hardware exhibited there. Sunopsis has also donated equipment to other computer collections such as the German CPU Collection and the Computer Museum in Munich. Now that we're celebrating 25 years of Sun, it's amazing to see how the world of computing has changed in less than a generation!

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