[FoRK] Stand up and face the future

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Mon Dec 21 02:11:54 PST 2009

Jeff Bone wrote:
> There's this occupational hazard we programmers, techie types, and 
> similar geeks face as we ease on down that road to professional 
> senescence...
> "Parallel programming?  That's just like doing multi-tasking on big 
> iron.  We were doing that 10 years ago.  More."

Hey, I get to do that now!  How's this?
He worries about Buddylist-like applications with 7 billion users 
(Presence/IM, Twitter (which is just presence with 140 character status 
and no IM), etc.).

Buddylist @ AOL in 1995-1998 handled 3-8 million simultaneous users with 
100Mhz (PA Risc [1]) and 1GB RAM.  Assuming the same rate of efficiency, 
scaling, and usage (not accurate, but within an order or two of 
magnitude), 7 Billion users would take:
print (7*1000*1000*1000)/(3*1000*1000)
2333 machines of the same power
print 2333/30/16
4 computers with 3Ghz dual quad-core with hyperthreading (does not 
include various other benefits of modern processors)
print 2333/64
36 computers with 64GB of RAM.

With 2 orders of magnitude of overhead (larger IDs, more frequent 
"updates", terribly expensive protocols requiring communication 
concentration), that's 3600 nodes max for real-time tracking of every 
living person.  Not so tough.  Or so it seems.

> ...
> But with this article, at least the author has had the courage and has 
> made the effort to cast off some assumptions that may be convenient 
> and comfortable but are prima facie false.  At least he has had the 
> courage to stand up and face the future, unflinching, and tell it like 
> it is.

The idea of an open post-feudal market, the "Ambient Cloud", is very good.

> I wish more of us did this.  I wish I did more often.
> Read it:
> http://highscalability.com/blog/2009/12/16/building-super-scalable-systems-blade-runner-meets-autonomic.html 

It's a nice read actually.  A freaking kitchen sink of ideas, 
references, and ideas, but nice.

> aka
>   http://tinyurl.com/y8ro8pl
> Enjoy.
> jb
[1] http://www.openpa.net/pa-risc_processors.html#pa-7100lc


More information about the FoRK mailing list