The future of computing: Multiple cores, multiple inputs

The future of computing: Multiple cores, multiple inputs

Summary: Microsoft's research unit is betting on software that utilizes multiple core processors and can handle multiple natural inputs such as voice and touch.It's a good bet.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Hardware
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Microsoft's research unit is betting on software that utilizes multiple core processors and can handle multiple natural inputs such as voice and touch.

It's a good bet.

Mary Jo Foley reports from Microsoft's research day:

Seven academic research projects will share the $1.5 million Microsoft allocated for the Safe and Scalable Multicore Computing RFP. According to Microsoft, this RFP is designed to “stimulate and enable bold, substantial research in multicore software that rethinks the relationships among computer architecture, operating systems, runtimes, compilers and applications.”

And all those cores are going to usher in new user interfaces. Mary Jo adds in a followup post:

Instead of allowing users to interact only with touch or only with speech, Microsoft is working on interfaces that will combine multiple natural-input techniques.

Say what you will about Microsoft, but its research unit is one of the coolest things going.

While I'm clearly a keyboard guy at some point--when my hands blow up--I won't be. Wouldn't it be nice to talk a bit and point a bit? In many respects, this vision of computing is coming up fast. For instance, touch is everywhere. Voice recognition has been around for awhile, but it's still a crap shoot. Multicore processing could change that equation and make all of these natural inputs seamless. In many respects, multicore and multiple inputs have to ride shotgun because you need computing horsepower to limit latency.

Whether Microsoft actually cashes in on multicore and multiple input computing remains to be seen, but directionally the company's research unit may be on to something big.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware

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11 comments
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  • Are you sure you are a keyboard guy?

    [i]While I?m clearly a keyboard guy[/i]

    I think you need to expand your view of what a "computer" is and you will see where MS is going with this. Voice communication works extremely well already with [url=http://www.syncmyride.com/#/home/] Sync [/url] and this is a computer you certainly don't want to use a keyboard as input.

    Some of the local grocery stores allow you to "self serve" yourself and use a combination of touch screen and bar code scanner. Again, this is a computer that you don't want to use a keyboard with!

    I don't think that what we think of today as a PC will move away from the keyboard/mouse input combo for a long time but when you think of non-traditional places where computers could be used, you quickly see a [b]lot[/b] of instances where the keyboard is the worst possible method of input. MS is smart to position itself as providing the OS of choice for these new computers.
    NonZealot
    • Agreed

      I was referring to a PC. But point taken. Sync is a good example as is an ATM, kiosk etc.
      Larry Dignan
      • Software

        Most embedded strategies will fail when the one
        embedded strategy that counts kicks in. The chip
        embedded with the user in the form of a personal device.
        It will be both the shopping list, and the checkout. It will
        be the mileage tracker, the wallet for gas money, and the
        emergency beacon. It will do all these things through
        software, and it will be on your person at all times. The
        Microsoft model aspires to put OS's everywhere, but
        they're floundering in the only place that it matters, the
        chip "embedded" in the human being.

        Apple's iPhone model flanks the embedded chip by
        allowing functionality to be distributed as bits rather than
        chips. E-commerce can effectively replace the ATM. Movie
        tickets will be purchased via internet and barcodes
        displayed on entry. Bye bye kiosks. I've even seen iPhones
        used to soothe babies with a lullaby and a picture of
        mom's smiling face. Let a kiosk do that.

        This is not an imitation of single function appliances, this
        is the computer doing what it was meant to do. Running
        software. A myriad of different kinds, and morphing into a
        new role every few minutes. If you folks think shouting
        "phone Bob" at your dashboard holds a candle to this other
        new model, you're off your rocker.
        Harry Bardal
        • Phone Bob!

          [i]If you folks think shouting "phone Bob" at your dashboard holds a candle to this other new model, you're off your rocker.[/i]

          Wait, before espousing "this other new model" that the iPhone is going to bring us, shouldn't the iPhone be able to do voice dialing? My WM phone can it is 3 years old. Here is a clue: the new model is already here but you can't get it with Apple products. :)

          However, if you think that every computer device is going to be replaced by the iPhone, you are seriously kidding yourself. I see these external devices as complimenting the device in your pocket and they are going to be around for a long time to come.

          Enjoy your iPhone Harry. I did... 5 years ago. :)
          NonZealot
    • Expanded Views

      You might do a little view expanding yourself. The real
      promise of the computer is not to reinvent the single
      function appliance, but to morph through software into all
      these devices. In this model, the car doesn't have an
      embedded chip, the driver does, by virtue of a personal
      mobile device. All your interactions with embedded chips
      have one thing in common. A user. Doesn't it make more
      sense for functionality to be distributed via networks as
      bits, rather than embedded chips? Doesn't it make more
      sense for the user to carry his maps, mileage, and grocery
      list on his person, along with all the other personal
      communication tools. Why do we need to create redundant
      function around every corner?

      Whereas the iPhone espouses the personal butler model.
      Microsoft does what it does, and tries to put it's OS in
      every refrigerator and coffee table. A computer on, and in
      every desk? It's dumb. If Microsoft and it's patrons thought
      this through, you might better see how you're being
      flanked.
      Harry Bardal
      • Once again, Harry forgets that Apple didn't invent the smartphone

        [i]Whereas the iPhone espouses the personal butler model.[/i]

        Yawn, wake me when Apple goes from claiming to invent things that I've been using for years to actually inventing things I've never seen before.

        Also, you might try reading a bit more about Sync instead of immediately dismissing it because it isn't "Powered by Apple". Then you would see that, among other things, it is an interface to the smartphone in your pocket. Then again, Apple hasn't announced that it invented Bluetooth so you probably don't believe it exists either. :)

        Finally, before praising the iPhone for having all of Sync's abilities in a "personal butler form factor", you might want to convince Apple to add voice dialing to the iPhone... you know, that thing we've had on $30 phones for 5+ years now. [b]Then[/b] you can start worrying about controlling music playback through voice commands, you know, just like Sync could do last year! Then, maybe Apple can add stereo bluetooth support to the iPhone (just like all those $30 phones) so you can listen to your music in stereo! What a concept! :)

        Seriously Harry, you claim that a new world order is just around the corner with the iPhone. When you turn that corner in 3 years with your Apple products, you will ecstatically note that we are nowhere to be seen. The problem for you is that we aren't behind you, we are in front of you and have already turned the next corner!
        NonZealot
        • Once again, Zealot forgets that Apple didn't claim to invent the smartphone

          It's just vastly improved it.

          >>> Yawn, wake me when Apple goes from claiming to invent things that I've been using for years to actually inventing things I've never seen before. >>>

          Yes, wake me when you decide to show a bit of honesty as it;s usually the Apple bashers who try to make that bogus claim

          >>>..., you might want to convince Apple to add voice dialing to the iPhone... you know, that thing we've had on $30 phones for 5+ years now... >>>

          Yes, amazing how Apple has turned the cellphone market on it's collective ear with this device you love to diss.

          Others have had technology like "simple" (just for you) touch and many of the features found in the iPhone, plus many not yet implemented but as you so proudly boast... they've had them for (3, 4, 5+) years!

          Speaks volumes that Apple surpassed them in many respects with version 1 and in the first year on the market blows other like devices out of the water.

          Unlike all the "5+ years" slackers you worship, you should be thanking Apple for getting them off their butts.

          Not much to brag about re your choice IMO if Apple successfully surpasses (technologically) in 1 what's it taken them 5+ years to fail at. Give Apple time and it will add features deemed important or missing, and/or watch 3rd party developers fill the void (and more).

          Many complaints about YOUR choice of cellphones have been "resolved" on the iPhone...

          - typical Apple ease of use/uncomplicated (many other owners don't use the cell features they have now because they don't work well or are a pain to access or use)

          - a usable/enjoyable Internet experience (vs the kludge existing on most other phones)

          - well thought out and (heaven forbid!) enjoyable and fun to use GUI ("stroked", realistic scrolling; multi-touch NOT found on other phones; attractive, well designed graphics; etc)

          plus it does many things well (phone, media, Internet, contacts/email, etc), if not perfectly to suit your warped and biased expectations and demands.

          >>> Seriously Harry, you claim that a new world order is just around the corner with the iPhone. When you turn that corner in 3 years with your Apple products, you will ecstatically note that we are nowhere to be seen. The problem for you is that we aren't behind you, we are in front of you and have already turned the next corner! >>>

          ROTFLMAO!!! Just the opposite... [b]Never mind 3 years, you're behind NOW, witnessed by all the iPhone "killers" and wannabes.[/b] Don't see much (any?) WinMobile envy out there.

          Per usual, you're (trolling and) out of touch with the many unbiased (true non-zealot) users and "intelligent" developers who see the potential and are actually making many great apps for the iPhone.

          But you already knew that and whistling past the graveyard doesn't change reality but if it makes you feel better, go for it :-)

          ...
          MacCanuck
  • Just a CPU software program

    Some day we'll have access to the CPU.
    BALTHOR
    • Depends what you mean...

      Windows (and most other OS's) give administrators access to process priority.

      No offense but I'm never sure what you're talking about.
      AndyCee
  • RE: The future of computing: Multiple cores, multiple inputs

    Good item Larry

    There is a lot of potential in that future direction. Especially for disabled people. Here's to the "level playing field" for everyone.

    Maybe these new multicore p's could be used for an interractive supercomp to enable the US gov to get the economy back on the pos footing.

    Thanks again for the item Larry, very good.
    spodgod
  • Microsoft's research is always good stuff...

    Microsoft has always had one of the best research goals of any company. Lord knows Apple gets a lot of their stuff from them... :)
    Narg