Sophie Wilson – The future of microprocessors

In this 2014 talk, one of the designers of the original ARM processor, Sophie Wilson, gives an overview of the history of processors and what to expect in future.

The presentation covers in layman’s terms topics like Moore’s law (obviously), pipelining, parallelism, power consumption, heat dissipation, processor specialization and cost of production among other things. As explained, all those aspects are facing difficult challenges that are likely to shape the future of microprocessors, which in turns impacts both hardware and software engineers.

Here is the same presentation in 2016:

Facebook’s iOS Infrastructure

In this talk from @Scale 2014, Adam Ernst and Ari Grant present some of the problems met during the development of the native Facebook mobile application, and the solutions developed.

The first part, starting at around 7’00, explains why the built-in data management library was ill-suited and how they designed a different system to better suit their needs. The second part, starting at around 24’30, shows how their implementation of MVC was becoming unmanageable and how they redesigned it. Interestingly enough, in both cases the solution was based on immutability.

Unreal Engine experimental scene videos

Since the beginning of 2014, there has been a lot of videos demonstrating the realism that can now be achieved with Unreal Engine 4.

Often, these videos showcase a static scene or even concentrate on a single detail: lighting in an architectural structure, the look of rain hitting the ground, or some wet pebble on the beach.

Physically based rendering, global illumination and screen space reflections seem to manage to trick the brain an get it confused between what is real and what isn’t. Even when some artifacts get salient, like reflections popping in and out or changing with camera orientation, we are quick to forget them and find the image very believable.

Here are some of these videos, by Alexander Dracott, Koola, and Benoît Dereau.

Unreal 4 Lighting Study: Forest Day from Alexander Dracott on Vimeo.

An artificial light that looks like light from the sky

The Italian company CoeLux has apparently managed to create an artificial light which uses a material that mimics the atmospheric scattering, to look like sunlight and light from the sky. Judging from the photos and videos available on their website, it seems the look is very convincing.

As they point out, this could have a serious impact on architecture, as available sunlight is a factor in the design of buildings. Unfortunately, at this stage it is a prohibitively expensive product for the average consumer, and likely targeted at the construction industry. But it might be only a niche for some years before expanding to a larger scale.

The news websites PetaPixel and Colossal have previously covered this topic last month, and included some larger product photos made available by the company. But the most interesting coverage might be the one by Lux Review, who met CoeLux at an exhibition booth and made the following video. From their article:

No, the light source doesn’t move… yet. No, the colour temperature isn’t dynamic… yet. The void height needed is a metre. It consumes 340W of electrical power, but that will come down as LEDs improve.

CPU details you always wanted to know but never asked

Here are two roughly 90mn long resources on these CPU details you always wanted to know but never asked:

An article giving an up to date, dense and well explained overview of microprocessors architecture: Modern Microprocessors – A 90 minutes guide!

A talk by Scott Meyers on CPU cache: CPU Caches and Why You Care. Although the recording could be much better to say the least, the talk is very worth watching, starting with very simple considerations and getting pretty far while staying crystal clear. The slides can be found here.

Update: the Scott Meyers talk referenced in the above link has been put behind a paywall. However he gave his talk again in 2014 at a conference, and the video is available. The new talk contains a few differences, and all in all I find it a bit harder to follow and a bit less entertaining (for some reason, the jokes don’t work as well as they did previously), but the recording quality is also much better.