ALT.NET Canada Vancouver and The Fallacies of Parallel Computing

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 – 9:22 AM

ALT.NET conference schedule, for the people by the people.

I found the time to attend ALT.NET Canada in Vancouver this past weekend. This turned out to be quite the event and I had a great time. Several other people from the Puget Sound area made the journey including myself and Bob from p&p.

As with all Open Spaces conferences “The things that are talked about are the right things to talk about”. There were several sessions I really got a lot out of including one proposed by Michael Stiefel on what Green IT/Computing means to developers—more on that in a later post—and another I proposed with Amanda Laucher on Manycore, Multi-core, GPGPU computing and Axum.

There was also a lot of drinking.


The Fallacies of Parallel Computing

This is what came out of the talk on multi/manycore computing and Axum. There was a lot of great discussion about the myths surrounding writing parallel code:

  • Locality doesn’t matter
  • Locks and sync are cheap
  • More parallelism == faster code
  • All actors see the system in the same state
  • Parallel programming is really easy / impossibly hard
  • All parallelism is the same

On Saturday afternoon there was a two hour Coding Dojo. I spent a bunch of time looking at Axum. Axum is a DSL for expressing parallelism which uses the agent model. It looks pretty interesting although the docs are a little on the sparse side. There’ll be more on this later too.