Monday, December 1, 2008

Time for parallel to get regular!

Given the major global developments in multi-core, it is obvious that the chip design industry is moving toward this technology platform.

However, as with any new development, multi-core platforms bring their own sets of challenges that need to be addressed as easily and skilfully as possible.

It is in this context that Intel has started its Intel Academic Community Program. This program is focused on preparing the next generation of software professionals for multi-core platforms. Excellent! Time for parallel to get regular!!

The Intel program aims at expanding the computer science curriculum to include multi-threading software for multi-core platforms. It already had tie ups with 45 universities globally, delivering curriculum in 2006, and 400+ in 2007. Intel is also contributing expertise, educational course materials, dual-core PC platforms, software development tools and funding.

Intel has already invested over $1 billion in education. Intel has programs right across the board. This year, about 90 faculty members attended the 2008 Asia Academic Forum.

Multi-core focus area
According to Scott Apeland, Director, Developer Network for Intel, at the sidelines of IDF 2008, Taipei, the company's has always been stressing on innovation and technologies. One of the key focus areas has been multi-core. He says: "Multi-core has created significant changes in the industry. It has to be parallel, rather than sequential.We have provided tools to make it easier to develop, test, debug and optimize multi-core software."

Two years ago, Intel had partnered with 40 universities to provide multi-core information into the curriculum. These universities were extremely receptive. Today, Intel has partnered with over 850+ universities globally.

"In India, we started with the tier 1 institutes. So, they are also training their partners. The engineers who would be coming out of these institutes with the training will definitely have the competitive edge. There is a new pipeline for the new talent coming out from all of these universities," says Apeland.

Web-based program
Intel has developed a Web-based program, where users can download the tools. They can license them as well, and even download the curriculum, etc. Those faculty using this program can also share ideas and experiences with the other participating faculties. Apeland adds: "Now, the institutes are also starting to communicate together. We have created the community and the people are interacting."

Harshad Deshpande, Asia Pacific & Japan Program Manager, Intel Software & Solutions Group, elaborated that Intel works with VCs, UMs and the HRD ministry, etc., in India, and also conduct seminars. "We share information, etc., and then roll it out. The UPTU and the VTU have already started using this. Also, the NITs (formerly, RECs), have taken this up as well," he says.

"For certain tier 1 institutes, we have the Intel Higher Education Team. Intel scholars visit these institutes, and have multiple, close engagements. Our portal is the Intel Software Network, the resource for parallel programming tools."

Need for parallel programmers
Commenting on the growing need for parallel programmers, Apeland notes: "We are hearing from companies that they need more parallel programmers.

The whole industry is moving toward multi-core. Developers need to learn the new skills and move ahead."

Parallel is regular
According to Apeland, this may happen in the next five to 10 years, when we have better ways to use parallel programming.

He notes: "By 2010, this may start happening. For example, Wipro, in India, has been getting customer requirements for parallelism.

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