December 08, 2000, 1:33 PM — Does the world need a gigahertz processor? Well, ready or not, such chips are
coming. There are plenty of scientists and researchers who could make use of that
horsepower, and, for its part, chip leader Intel has a few ideas as to how that chip
can be employed.
In fact, participants at Intel's Computing Continuum conference in San Francisco
were told communities of processor-enabled devices will become the rule in days to
The company gathered some of the most advanced minds in high-tech to discuss the
move from interactive computing to ubiquitous computing. David Tennenhouse, vice
president and director of research at Intel told the assembled that IT has evolved from
an era of the computer centric to the human centric, and that we are getting read to
take the leap to a what he described as a world of human-directed computing.
This will call for a new style of programming. Tennenhouse said, "Computers
traditionally had a very deterministic view of what happens. But the physical world
outside the computer is very unpredictable and stochastic. It has a lot of noise in
"We are going to have to make a transition to deal with that stochastic world. We
will have to write programs that are much less predictable," said Tennenhouse. [Ed
note: Some long-time users of information technology wonder if such a thing is
Intel research czar Tennenhouse pointed out that most of the research today seeks to
improve human-computer interaction by looking at how a single human works with one
computer to execute various tasks. However, 98% of all the processors on the planet are
out in the real world inside vehicles, robots and embedded systems. Now is the time for
researchers to start imagining how to develop software and applications that will take
advantage of this universal infrastructure, Tennenhouse said.
He noted that there are about 150 million PC style computers today, but 8 billion
embedded processors are created each year.
Now we need to start thinking about researching the applications in a world of
thousands of computers per person. Tennenhouse said, "We are moving from batch to
interactive computing. We need to start thinking about a new style of proactive
computing that will enable ubiquitous computing much as interactive technology enabled
human centered computing."
Today, most networking research is focused on broadening the Internet. But
Tennenhouse believes, "We can extend the depth of the Internet into all the nooks and
crannies. It is really a viable thing to look at, especially with wireless