The challenges of parallel computing
As for parallel computing -- roughly defined as the simultaneous execution of numerous program instructions on multiple or multi-core processors -- Banerjee said that HP is hoping to use its research efforts to help clear some of the software programming obstacles that exist on the market today.
"We're very aware in our research of the challenges of making parallel software applications; we need engineers who can start writing code designed for multi-cores and to help transition software designed to run on a single processor," said Prith.
If some of those roadblocks can be pushed aside, the benefits could be enormous, according to the HP researcher.
"We're imaging a world where you plug in a computer and all the applications work automatically, and users don't have to worry about patches and updates," he said. "We're imagining a world where software is automatically updated and maintained so that environment for end-users will be completely automated and allow them to increase productivity. That is a very difficult problem to solve, but we're going to try to solve it."
Another area of focus for all three organizations is the process of refining their internal research and development operations. Under Prith, HP will attempt to lower its overall number of research projects by folding them into larger efforts, the executive said, and Chien added that Intel is having success with "lablets," groups of researchers it sponsors at academic institutions to augment its internal R&D work.
At Cisco, the massive networking company is attempting to inject an air of entrepreneurialism into areas of research that it believes can be turned into revenue-producing businesses rapidly, as evidenced by the launch of its physical security and telepresence product groups over the last several years, said Guido Jouret, CTO of the firm's Emerging Markets Technology Group.
"We're trying to re-create the start-up atmosphere inside Cisco. So far, we've announced four different units, and the goal is to create one every several months," Jouret said. "We'll also continue to do small acquisitions where we can gain vital technologies or teams to help flesh out our ideas. The idea is to create an interesting mix of entrepreneurial drive."
Along with security and telepresence, the company has launched a digital media group s part of the effort as well as a business devoted to replacing the static product displays found in retails stores today with "digitally-driven network displays."
Jouret said that the telepresence group is working to mesh device geolocation with collaboration tools and multimedia-sharing systems.
"We want to combine video with collaboration platforms for rich multimedia interaction, tools that allow companies and consumers to interact in ways that we can't even imagine yet," he said.
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