Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New and Noteworthy (New Security Beat, Parallel Computing, Wired Danger Room)

In today's edition:

* First off, another year-end round-up, this one from the New Security Bea. (One piece I missed earlier which is certainly worth a look is the discusses India's Maoist insurgency, which is all too often overlooked in Western discussions of security on the subcontinent.)

* Jeff Hecht's article for the New Scientist last month, discussing a recent report from the U.S. National Research Council, The Future of Computing Performance: Game Over or Next Level? on the limits to growth in computer power. Simply put, it may be that the growth in computing power we have come to take for granted will hit a wall in the next decade--the leveling off of clock speed circa 2005 just the beginning, with multi-core processors likely to offer only so much more improvement. The report accordingly suggests that "Future growth in computing performance will have to come from software parallelism that can exploit hardware parallelism" (p. 78). (So much, it seems, for the promises about exotic hardware designs--photonic computers, quantum computers--transcending the constraints of semiconductors and extending the growth in computer speed indefinitely. We still have some years to go before the crunch arrives, of course, but somehow I don't think we're going to have radically new machines on our desks in ten years.)

* The Wired Danger Room on Defense Secretary Robert Gates's proposed cuts to the Army and Marine Corps, as well as Vice-Admiral Jack Dorsett, the U.S. Navy's chief of intelligence, on China's hugely publicized ASBM, and its J-20 fighter, which is a useful corrective to the hype about these two systems (though I'm also doubtful about the more spectacular developments the item mentions as likely to be of greater moment).

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