Desktop Computing: The Next Generation

New research in parallel processing could bring about "desktop supercomputers"; researchers announce naming contest open to public.

Forget "thin clients" -- the next generation of desktop computers are very fat, and very fast, and perhaps best of all the researchers pushing this envelope have opened up the naming of the new technology to a public contest.

A prototype of what may be the next generation of personal computers has been developed by University of Maryland engineering researchers that uses parallel processing on a single chip to achieve computing speeds 100 times faster than current desktops.

The prototype developed by Uzi Vishkin and his colleagues uses a circuit board about the size of a license plate on which they have mounted 64 parallel processors. To control those processors, they have developed the crucial parallel computer organization that allows the processors to work together and make programming practical and simple for software developers.

Parallel processing on a massive scale, based on interconnecting numerous chips, has been used for years to create supercomputers. However, its application to desktop systems has been a challenge because of severe programming complexities. The Clark School team found a way to use single chip parallel processing technology to change that.

Vishkin and his team are now demonstrating their technology, which in future devices could include 1,000 processors on a chip the size of a finger nail, to government and industry groups.

Naming Contest

To increase awareness of his new technology, Vishkin is inviting the public to propose names for it. The name should reflect the features and bold aspirations of the new machine and its parallel computing capabilities, Vishkin said.

The winner will receive a $500 cash prize and be credited with the naming of the innovative technology. Visitors can submit their ideas online at the Clark School of Engineering website, www.eng.umd.edu. The deadline for submissions is September 15, 2007.


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