Sly and the RoarVM: Exploring the Manycore Future of Programming

Today, I gave a talk at the ExaScience Lab, Intel Labs Europe in Leuven at IMEC. I talked mainly about the idea of nondeterministic programming, the Sly programming language and some details on our Smalltalk manycore virtual machine that enables those experiments. Thus, tried to spread the word about our Renaissance project at bit further.

Below you can find the abstract and slides.


The manycore future has several challenges ahead of us that suggest that fundamental assumptions of contemporary programming approaches do not apply anymore when scalability is required.

Sly is a language prototype designed to experiment with the inherently nondeterministic properties of parallel systems. It is designed to enable programmers to embrace nondeterminism instead of guiding them to fight it. Nature shows that complex system can be built from independent entities that achieve a common goal without global synchronization/communication. Sly is design to enable the prototyping of algorithms that show such emerging behavior. It will be introduced in the first part of the talk.

The second part of the talk will focus on the underlying problems of building virtual machines for the manycore future, which allow to harness the available computing power. The RoarVM was design to experiment on the Tilera TILE64 manycore processor architecture which provides 64 cores and characteristics that are distinctly different from today’s commodity multicore processors. Memory bandwidth, caches and communication are the biggest challenges on such architectures and this talk will give a brief overview over the design choices of the RoarVM which tackle the characteristics of the TILE64 architecture.


Acknowledgement: Sly and the RoarVM were designed and implemented by David Ungar and Sam Adams at IBM Research.

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