One of the questions which came up in the Q&A panel at the end of our parallel patterns workshop on Monday was “Do we really need 512 cores, or even 24?” This is completely valid point. If I had that much compute power on the desktop what would I do with it?
In the past decade desktop computer power has doubled with each generation of processor and developers have always found new ways to give their users more valuable features or more responsive applications. I don’t see that trend changing.
It turns out that when I got back from PDC 09 to my hotel this evening my theory was confirmed beyond any doubt. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; I give you “Exhibit A: The computer controlled toilet”. Yes… really… seat temperature, bidet water temperature. Do we need a toilet with more computing power than the first space shuttle. No. But someone figured out it was possible and created a market for it and built a profitable business around it. Now I have one in my bathroom at the hotel.
The key is to drive down the cost of investing in concurrency. Make it easier for developers to create concurrent applications and they and their users will find ways to use the compute power. I’m spending a lot of time at PDC learning about some of the things Microsoft has planned in the parallel computing space.