JAX London Keynote

Java and the Machine – why developers shouldn’t panic about this multicore age

Chris Mayer

LJC co-lead Martijn Verburg and Java performance guru Kirk Pepperdine warn us of the multicore age and how it will affect Java developers

Two of Java’s most engaging personalities kicked off the JAX London Community Night with a warning for all the Java developers in the room.

“The world is changing from under your feet and has been for a very long time”. Those were the words of the Diabolical Developer and London Java Community co-lead Martijn Verburg, urging all developers to be aware of the multicore age we are now in.

Joined by his JClarity colleague and Java performance guru, Kirk Pepperdine, the two provided a humorous yet insightful Java and the Machine keynote, playing heavily upon the Terminator film series. This was despite Pepperdine having never seen any of the movies.

Verburg used the analogy: “Humans don’t do well against T-800. Well, developers are not doing well against hardware – and it’s only getting worse.”

Beginning by looking at the huge jump in complexity from the Intel of the past to today, Verburg and Pepperdine whizzed through a few fundamental laws that all developers should know – Moore’s, Little’s and Amdahl’s, before getting to the nitty gritty of harnessing extra Java juice from your hardware.

Verburg assured us that there was no reason to panic as the fundamental laws had been around for some time. It is simply a case of learning the laws through a bit of code.

The two continued to riff off each other throughout, with Pepperdine’s mantra of “It’s about the hardware, stupid!” appearing numerous times. The duo touched upon Martin Thompson’s Mechanical Sympathy concept of hardware and software working together, why virtualisation isn’t all that  and provided a beautiful analogy for multi-threading, comparing it to managing children in a playpen. One isn’t too difficult, but 2,4,6,8 then it gets difficult.

Aside from quoting themselves in real-time, the pair also used Azul Systems’ Gil Tene’s quote “We protect code with the hope of protecting data.” Verburg and Pepperdine argued that it shouldn’t be this way, as when you protect code, you always take a hefty performance hit.

The two concluded that Java developers need to be more like Sarah Connor in the Terminator films to be able to deal with the multicore age that is upon on them, before insisting that more beer was drunk at the bar.

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Image courtesy of gaudiramone

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