The Church of Microsoft

The software maker tries to get ahead of the move to hundreds of processor cores per chip in a deal with the MareNostrum supercomputer

3 min read

The IBM MareNostrum ­supercomputer sits in a Gothic-style chapel on the outskirts of Barcelona, Spain. It may not be the world’s fastest—although it is in the top 20—but it is certainly the world’s most beautiful computing machine [see ”Solving the Oil Equation,” January]. And if all goes according to plan, this is where future generations of Microsoft’s Windows operating system will be born.

For Microsoft, MareNostrum’s more than 10 000 IBM microprocessors and 20 terabytes of memory are the ideal ­testing ground for the software that will run the kind of multicore and many-core microprocessors that will hit our desktops in the next few years. Those CPUs are expected to be made up of hundreds of processor cores, so it takes a supercomputer with thousands of processors to simulate them for software development. Which is why Microsoft and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center, which runs the MareNostrum, struck a deal in late January to form a joint research center dedicated to solving the vast array of problems associated with programming for multicore processors.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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