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Javva The Hutt February 28th, 2003

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Back to newsletter 027 contents | All Javva's articles

Infinitely fast computers

As usual, I'm months behind on my reading. So I've only just read Paul Davies article on How to Build a Time Machine. (I met Prof Davies once, and he's every bit as enthusiatic in person as he comes across in his articles).

The article is hardly news (as in new info), but it's always nice to get the old grey matter thinking. What leapt out at me this time is that micro-wormholes could enable time travel at the particle level. So you could conceivably build computer gates which produced results in essentially no time. Technically, you could produce results before you started the calculation, but assuming Hawking's chronology protection conjecture is correct, that would be ruled out. But the conjecture would not rule out calculations that took no time. So you could build an infintely fast computer. NP-complex? Who cares! Elegant algorithms? Who cares! The most stupidly inefficient computer program would still take ... no time.

I figure 50 years is enough to get some kind of time-acceleration technology running. Let's see, current projections are that Moore's law starts to run out around 2020. I reckon there'll be some breakthroughs in 3-D chip architectures that'll extend that another 15 years. Throw in some unknown (to me) technology that extends Moore's law another 15 years beyond that, then we'll enter the realm of time-speeded chips.

If we take the conservative Moore's law we get a 30-fold CPU speedup every 10 years. From experience, I know that dumb-couldn't-care-less-about-performance programming runs about 1,000 times slower than a reasonably tuned app. Given that a reasonably tuned app runs okay on a modern CPU, in another 20 years you can write your Java app any way you want. Well not quite, the CPU won't be a problem, and memory probably also won't be a concern but I/O will still be limiting and other shared resources will be a problem. So the bottlenecks will be somewhere else, and I guess you'll still need to tune your app. That's pretty funny. An infinitely fast computer will still need to have it's software tuned to run it adequately fast enough!

Diary of a Hutt

January 15. Ah, the rigours of the new year. Why does it take a week to get into gear every time any public holidays roll around? I bet if most businesses could measure productivity on a monthly basis, they'd see big dips in December and January. And maybe Feb (too cold, or too hot if you're in the other hemisphere from me). And March, all those hormones surging. And April, because ... Okay, maybe there always some reason or other why people are distracted. I'm allowed to ramble. It's my diary.

January 22. TEAM FRELLING LEADER. That's it. Dribble pay rise, no real title, but more management work. ******* ******** *** ** ** **** [expletive sentence deleted]. Now I know what that little snide Weevil was up to. He was getting my promotion downgraded to a ******* ***** ** ****.

January 29. Apparently I was in a very dark mood last week. I do aplogize to any readers of a more sensitive nature. I was slightly disappointed at the final status discussions over my performance group. Instead of what I'd expected, i.e. a new mini-department, I've become team leader for a new mini-team. I'm feeling cheerier this week. On a side note, it appears that Weevil sent a very insulting and partially pornographic email to several directors this week, which has caused rather a lot of uproar.

January 30. The security and administration team seemed to have tracked down Weevil's alleged email as a forgery sent via an open email server which someone installed on one of the spare machines. It seems that there is no way of tracking down the culprit, because no logs were made on that machine. The security team have altered system-wide configurations to ensure that this type of activity can never occur again. Given the lack of available evidence, the case has been closed and Weevil absolved of blame. What a naughty person we must have somewhere in our organization.

BCNU

Javva The Hutt.


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