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Preview: ACM Queue - System Evolution

ACM Queue - System Evolution


Borg, Omega, and Kubernetes

Wed, 02 Mar 2016 17:56:14 GMT

Though widespread interest in software containers is a relatively recent phenomenon, at Google we have been managing Linux containers at scale for more than ten years and built three different container-management systems in that time. Each system was heavily influenced by its predecessors, even though they were developed for different reasons. This article describes the lessons we've learned from developing and operating them.

Abstraction in Hardware System Design

Thu, 18 Aug 2011 21:03:00 GMT

The history of software engineering is one of continuing development of abstraction mechanisms designed to tackle ever-increasing complexity. Hardware design, however, is not as current. For example, the two most commonly used HDLs date back to the 1980s. Updates to the standards lag behind modern programming languages in structural abstractions such as types, encapsulation, and parameterization. Their behavioral semantics lag even further. They are specified in terms of event-driven simulators running on uniprocessor von Neumann machines.

Custom Processing

Mon, 14 Jul 2008 15:03:30 GMT

Today we're going to talk about system on a chip and some of the design issues that go with that, and more importantly, some of the newer trends, such as the work that IBM is doing around the cell processor to advance the whole system on a chip processor. To that end, we've invited Peter Hofstee, Chief Scientist for the cell processor project that is being funded by IBM, Toshiba, and Sony, to talk to us today about how the whole system on a chip marketplace might change in the advent of the invention of the cell processor, and what technology is driving that.

The Long Road to 64 Bits

Tue, 10 Oct 2006 08:50:13 GMT

The Long Road to 64 Bits

Double, double, toil and trouble—Shakespeare, Macbeth


Shakespeare’s words (Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 1) often cover circumstances beyond his wildest dreams. Toil and trouble accompany major computing transitions, even when people plan ahead. To calibrate “tomorrow’s legacy today,” we should study “tomorrow’s legacy yesterday.” Much of tomorrow’s software will still be driven by decades-old decisions. Past decisions have unanticipated side effects that last decades and can be difficult to undo.

For example, consider the overly long, often awkward, and sometimes contentious process by which 32-bit microprocessor systems evolved into 64/32-bitters needed to address larger storage and run mixtures of 32- and 64-bit user programs. Most major general-purpose CPUs now have such versions, so bits have “doubled,” but “toil and trouble” are not over, especially in software.

Longhorn Ties Platform Apps to Core Operating System

Mon, 25 Oct 2004 10:31:35 GMT

Longhorn Ties Platform Apps to Core Operating System

Will Microsoft's New OS Be a Developer's Dream-Come-True?

Alexander Wolfe, Science Writer

Call it all-tools-for-all-things-Microsoft. That’s the way I’m beginning to think about Longhorn, Microsoft’s next-generation operating system, expected in 2006. The operating system will herald more than just the transition of mainstream computing to 64 bits. It will mark the emergence of a new, multifaceted programming model.

Breaking away from traditional computer science taxonomy, where operating systems stood barely removed from the hardware abstraction layer, Longhorn will be more like a multi-tentacled container for a wide range of administration and application tools.

Silicon Superstitions

Thu, 29 Jan 2004 10:14:55 GMT

We live in a technological age. Even most individuals on this planet who do not have TV or cellular telephones know about such gadgets of technology. They are artifacts made by us and for us. You'd think, therefore, that it would be part of our common heritage to understand them. Their insides are open to inspection, their designers generally understand the principles behind them, and it is possible to communicate this knowledge - even though the "theory of operation" sections of manuals, once prevalent, seem no longer to be included. Perhaps that's not surprising considering that manuals themselves are disappearing, leaving behind glowing Help screens that too often are just reference material for the cognoscenti rather than guides for the perplexed.

The Truth About Embedded Systems

Tue, 01 Apr 2003 15:12:45 GMT

Embedded systems are different in several ways from other software environments. The hardware they run on is often resource-constrained in terms of both memory and processor cycles, but still these systems must respond in realtime. They control the brakes of cars, the flaps of airplanes, traffic signaling systems, medical equipment, and other life-critical devices. Programming as if someone's life depended on it is a new concept to many systems engineers.