back to article Google gives its $1m Turing prize to, er, top Google bods: RISC men Hennessy, Patterson

The two engineers who further developed and popularized the concept of RISC microprocessors have won the 2017 ACM Turing Award. Professors John Hennessy and David Patterson were today announced as this year's (or last year's, if you want to be particular about it) winners of the prestigious honor named after Brit super-boffin …

  1. SirWired 1

    They do write a decent textbook

    I remember my late 90’s Hennessy and Patterson, and I remember it being one of my better-written textbooks. Not quite at the level of sublime terse perfection that was the ANSI K&R, but still quite good, and the price was not completely ludicrous.

  2. ratfox Silver badge
  3. wvc

    Well deserved

    I've never met John Hennessy, but I did work on one of Dave Patterson's projects at Berkeley in the 80s. You couldn't imagine a nicer, more inspiring guy.

  4. bjr

    Silicon valley view of the world

    Hennessy and Patterson got all of the credit for RISC but there were others who preceded them. The IBM 801 project, which lead to PowerPC, was built before either the MIPS or SPARC chips, I remember reading the 801 papers in late 1982 and thinking that they were doing the correct thing. However before any of them there was Seymour Cray who was the original proponent of simple architectures. Cray machines weren't Reduced Instruction Set Computers because he had never complicated them in the first place. The CDC 6600 and the Cray 1 were examples of minimal instruction set machines, the CDC 6600 was contemporaneous with the IBM 360, the machine that could be considered the first CISC machine. There were other simple instruction set machines in the 60s and early 70s, the DEC PDP8 and the Data General Nova, both design by Ed DeCastro, however those machines were simple by necessity, cost was the driving factor which at the time meant simple. Cray's machines were simple as a matter of philosophy, they were designed to be the fastest computers in the world and the way Cray achieved that was by using very simple instruction sets and running them at very high clock rates (for the time).

    1. abubasim

      Re: Silicon valley view of the world

      John Cocke of IBM was awarded the Turning Award in 1987: https://amturing.acm.org/award_winners/cocke_2083115.cfm

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Silicon valley view of the world

        You beat me to it !

        I really enjoy reading about Cocke's work and the machines he worked on - fascinating beasts. H&Ps contributions have become so ubiquitous that I take them for granted. Nice to see H&P getting some recognition - they changed things for the better in a big way. Perhaps RISC V will clear out the last vestiges of CISC. :)

  5. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Lots of RISC in schools.

    Primary school was BBC then Acorn Archimedes, big school was, after a couple of years of CISC Mac LC IIIs, PowerPC Macs.

    I don't think we saw a normal Newton (ARM) in the flesh, but the Design and Technology teacher was given an Apple eMate (a clamshell Newton with a keyboard only sold in education market, the translucent curved design foreshadowing Sir Jony's first famous product, the iMac) to play with. He didn't bother.

    Obviously being a schoolboy, it was the contrast in how these things ran video games that interested me. The Acorns ran games very well compared to the PC I had at home. Lots of sprites and colours and sound, loaded from the native WIMP GUI.

  6. Enno
    Thumb Down

    The Reg does itself a disservice with this article...

    The ACM Turing award goes back a long way. Long before there was a Google in fact. The fact that Google sponsors the prize the ACM is giving away with the gong is I would suggest barely relevant. The fact that Google which has made a habit of hoovering up the most talented people it can find ended up essentially giving money to some of those same people (chosen by the folk at the ACM) merely serves to confirm their policy is working. And of course as the article notes, the work being recognised is also from decades ago and no one is suggesting it is unworthy (far from it in fact).

    So, not really sure what the troll bait headline achieves if you want to paint yourselves as serious journalists? Other than exciting comments like this of course.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. vgcerf

    In the summary of their accomplishments, the earlier IBM 801 work by others is explicitly referenced. What is unique about the work of Hennessy and Patterson is their systematic method for evaluating instructions and their process for eliminating less used instructions to reduce the instruction set to a more efficient and smaller set. The headline is misleading. The award is made by the Association for Computing Machinery. Google supplies the funds but has no role in the selection process. I am a former President of ACM and a Turing Award winner and have chaired the Turing Award committee in the past. I am also a Google employee, and I am pleased that the ACM has chosen to recognize the pioneering work of these two computer scientists.

    Vint Cerf

    1. mandal

      Well well well

      They surely are in good company ;)

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Well well well

        Spoof or otherwise, I guess we'd better clean up the language. :P

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent authors and teachers -- well deserved

    All their tomes are wonderful (regardless of the authors' name precedence). And nice to see Dave with hair.

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