I’ve been thinking a lot lately about microprocessors, from the many-core CPUs that AMD and Intel introduced recently to the massively scalable GPGPU processing that’s taking machine learning by storm. After years of consolidation on commodity x86 CPUs, it seems that the computing paradigm is turning again to specialized offload processors. This trend towards heterogeneous computing will change the face of hardware, from mobile devices to the datacenter.
Things are getting awfully complicated, aren’t they? The custom parallel CPUs, proprietary communications networks, and encrypted data ports require extensive training, special tools, and a computerized reference library to comprehend, much less debug. And the manufacturers, who derive much of their money and differentiation from warranties and authorized repair centers, are loathe to see independent shops get a piece of the action.