Monday, July 5

Demiheros of Computer Architecture

Unsurprisingly, in designing a new trading card series there is strategy involved. In our case, the Heros of Computer Architecture series may need some cards with players less fundamentally valued than others to assure a dynamic market. We need less interesting, albeit equally famous, computer architects.

Therefore, for the fourth in our series we pick Michael J. Flynn. Professor Flynn didn't invent any computers anybody ever heard of (he did work on some important ones), but he was the first to note that a system could have one or more processors which could work on one or more sets of data. This stunning observation yielded the SISD/SIMD/MIMD acronym triad known as the Flynn Taxonomy. He also made an observation now called the Flynn Limit, to wit: it is very hard to execute more than one instruction per clock cycle. Three acronyms plus one slogan equals immortality.

Mike Flynn taught me the lesson that has always guided my career: if you can't be great in your field, be early.

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