Google Acquires Multicore Programming Startup PeakStream
(TechwebNews.com Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Google, Inc. on Tuesday said it has acquired a startup called PeakStream that specializes in software programming tools for high performance, multi-core and parallel processors.
In an e-mail statement, Google said, "We believe the PeakStream team's broad technical expertise can help build products and features that will benefit our users. We look forward to providing them with additional resources as they continue developing high performance applications for modern multi-core systems."
A Google spokesperson declined to detail the price.
Redwood Shores, Calif.-based PeakStream's Web site has been down most of Tuesday afternoon, possibly a consequence of the acquisition news. A company spokesperson was not immediately available to comment on the purchase.
PeakStream advertises that it "makes it easy to program new high performance, multi-core and parallel processors, and convert them into radically powerful computing engines for computationally intense applications."
The fledgling company launched last September with $17 million in Series B funding, helmed by executives from graphics chipmaker Nvidia, Sun Microsystems, and VMware.
It's not known what immediate plans Google has for PeakStream, however, programming software for multiple cores or multiple threads is widely viewed as more difficult than single-core or single-threaded programming.
In a press release last month, Faisal Saied, senior research scientist for information technology at Purdue, warned that multi-core chips weren't being fully utilized due to lack of programming expertise.
"High-performance computing experts have learned to deal with this, but they are a fraction of the programmers," said Saied. "In the future you won't be able to get a computer that's not multi-core, and as multi-core chips become ubiquitous, all programmers will have to learn new tricks."
In an interview just prior to Google Developer Day last week, Chris DiBona, open source program manager for Google, acknowledged that multi-core programming isn't for everyone.
"I think a lot of developers are in fact pretty well served by concentrating on what a single thread of execution looks like, because when you start introducing multiple threads, it can all a level of complexity to your code that's pretty daunting," he said. "And some developers aren't going to get a lot of benefit from taking advantage of an extra core or an extra CPU."
DiBona nonetheless believes that both Google's engineers and open source programmers have some good tools to deal with the challenge, including some that Google contributed: Perf Tools, a collection of a high-performance multi-threaded malloc() implementation and other performance analysis tools, and Coredumper, a tool for multi-threaded core dumps. And he points to the Apache Server's facility with multiple threads as evident that the problem is far from insurmountable.
"Cores should be taken with a grain of salt like anything else," said DiBona.
Stanford computer science Ph.D. student Adam L. Beberg, CTO of Mithral Communications & Design, Inc., dismissed the multi-core "crisis" in a post to David Farber's Interesting People mailing list today.
Beberg, who works on Folding@home, a 250K-node distributed system, noted the "idea that 64 cores is a problem is patently absurd." The real crisis, he suggested is that consumers no longer see appreciable speed gains from new multi-core hardware and thus have no incentive to upgrade.
"Intel and friends surpassed what home and business users need for their video chat, Excel, and Web surfing some year ago and now Moore's law is working on price," he said. " ...That's why the industry is in a panic. ..."
Copyright 2007 CMP Media LLC
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