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WINE 2013 and Intel

WINE 2013: The 9th Conference on Web and Internet Economics, here.

Over the past decade, research in theoretical computer science, artificial intelligence, and microeconomics has joined forces to tackle problems involving incentives and computation. These problems are of particular importance in application areas like the Web and the Internet that involve large and diverse populations. The Conference on Web and Internet Economics (WINE, formerly Workshop on Internet & Network Economics) is an interdisciplinary forum for the exchange of ideas and results on incentives and computation arising from these various fields.

Co-located with The 10th Workshop on Algorithms and Models of the Web Graph (WAW 2013), WINE 2013 will be held from December 11, 2013 through December 14, 2013 in Cambridge, MA, USA. The conference will feature invited speakers, tutorials, paper presentations, and a poster session. Invited talks and accepted papers and posters will be presented from December 12, 2013 through December 14, 2013; a tutorial program will take place on December 11, 2013.

Quentin Hardy, NYT, Stark Earnings for Intel Reflect Its Changing Market, here. AVX2 and the multiple FPUs per core in Haswell could be the end of the road for general purpose commodity floating point architecture improvements for a long time. The server manufacturers are falling behind and the demand for Intel chips is slipping. You will still get some improvements in the x86 feature size reductions but the architecture doesn’t look like it is going to change much. There used to be a world of Cray and Amdahl and then Steve Wallach and  Burton Smith where you had to hook up to The Guy who could deliver competitive floating point cycles. Sometime, call it ten years ago, that world where DARPA and NSF underwrote your floating point performance  got replaced with a world where Joe and Suzy Sixpack underwrote your commodity floating point performance. It’s been a great ride, and we should thank the Sixpacks,  but it’s nearing the end. It is reasonably clear that the Sixpacks want to use their chip real estate for wireless, mobile, solid battery life retina display not vectorized ILP hacks connected to coherent multicore caches. So someone else is going to pay for the R&D.  It’s a good bet DARPA and NSF will play a role if only because it’s not like Navier Stokes simulation codes are going to run themselves. But who is going to be The Guy who delivers exceptional  floating point performance for the computation I care about in 2016? It’s going to be a small niche market without much of the upside Wallach and Smith were chasing back in the day. This is not going to be an “all boats rise” kind of paradigm. However, there should be niche  low latency  demand of similar size to Spread’s 500MM USD Chicago to NY fiber run. Folks will eventually realize 1. there are no commodity microprocessor incremental floating point performance improvements on the horizon, 2. their parallel code is terrible, and 3. GPUs don’t solve their computational problems. Maybe your Broker Dealer can be the new age Burton Smith for automated trading.  That is almost certainly what the Dataflow FPGA boys sold to the London Whale, so we know the sales pitch works. Now all we need to do is to get the technology/architecture right so the customer doesn’t hemorrhage P&L in such a spectacular fashion right after they roll out to production. To put it in perspective, in the 10 greatest white elephants the Maginot Line only cost 5bn francs and took 10 years to build as opposed to the London Whale’s supercomputer credit batch reportedly cost 7 bn USD and took 3 years to assemble. At least the Germans had to go around the Maginot Line. The London Whale was flying blind pretty much right after the Dataflow Supercomputer Realtime Credit batch went into production.

For years, Intel executives scoffed at potential threats to its computer chip business from makers of less expensive chips for video games and mobile phones. The largest maker of chips, Intel continued to focus on putting those chips in personal computers, where they could be sold at a high profit margin.

That strategy appears to have run its course. The quality of mobile and gaming chips made by other companies has improved to a point where they run most of the world’s mobile phones and tablets. And partly because more people are turning to those mobile devices, PC sales are waning.

The move to mobile devices started to hurt Intel’s results in recent quarters, but the quarterly earnings that the company reported on Wednesday were particularly stark. Net income was $2 billion, or 39 cents a share, a drop of 29 percent from a year earlier. Revenue was $12.8 billion, down 5 percent.


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