Parallel Programming for C++ Developers

Channel9 recently posted a video with the Parallel Computing Concurrency Runtime team talking, mainly, about tasks and continuations, new features to the Parallel Patterns Library. These are already available through the ConcRT Extra’s Sample Pack. You can watch the half hour interview with the team here.

Besides the new stuff they shown, I particularly liked two things that Artur Laksberg said. The first was about the difference between parallelism and concurrency:

Parallelism is doing the same amount of work faster by utilizing multiple cores, multiple processors. Concurrency is understood as doing more work in the same amount of time.

The other one was about threads and tasks:

We want people to stop thinking about threads and start thinking in terms of independent, or not independent, units of work. You have one piece of work, you compose it with another piece of work and you have two tasks, you join together and what you get as a result is another task. And then, concurrency, as somebody said, just happens. It just happens if the runtime decides it’s beneficial for you, that it is safe to execute those two chunks, tasks, in parallel.

Hopefully people will start understanding that threads are obsolete and they should be thinking in tasks.

UPDATE: Microsoft Technical Computing group announced yesterday the availability of a book called Parallel Programming with Microsoft Visual C++: Design patterns for Decomposition, and Coordination on Multicore Architectures, describing six key patterns for data and task parallelism and how to implement them in VC++ using the Parallel Patterns Library and Asynchronous Agents Library, which shipped with Visual Studio 2010. There is also a printed version for the book. You can read more about it on VC++ team’s blog.

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