Stellar - Knights Landing Multicore Processing for Large Scale IoT Controlled Lighting

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Intel® Sofware Innovator Eskil Steenberg shows off Stellar, a software platform for controlling elaborate LED lighting setups. Take a look at how Eskil is using Knights Landing (KNL) multicore processing with Stellar to create fantastic lighting displays!

My name is Eskil Steenberg, and I'm here at SIGGRAPH at the Intel booth. And I'm showing off what I'm working on for the Intel's Knights Landing platform. 

Knights Landing is a new CPU from Intel that has 256 hardware threads that allows you to simulate what the computer of the future will look like. And it's great for software developers like me that want to develop long term applications that will last for tens of years, and where you will be able to test and know that your software is future proof. 

The development Knights Landing machine that I'm using here has 256 hardware threads. It's divided into 64 cores. And each one is hyperthreaded four ways. On top of that, you have 16 gigs of RAM right on the die which are super, super fast. So it acts like a Level 3 cache. 

And then on top of that, my system is 96 gigs of RAM on top of that that is slower. This allows you to come to terms with the idea that in the future, we'll have multiple stages of memory that have different performance characteristics. The application that I'm testing Knights Landing on is called Steller. 

It's a large scale light installation application that allows you to animate and drive hundreds of thousands of LED lights. You can build really, really complex setups and then fire them off on very big lighting installations. The application uses multi-cores and divides up the work into little chunks, and has a scheduler that splits it out to make it perform really, really well, even though you have a very, very large amount of lights, and do really complicated computations for each individual light. 

What's really exciting to me is that for the first time in almost 20 years, you can actually go and buy a machine that will look and feel like a computer from the future. This is not just going a few years ahead and getting 20% faster performance. This is a machine that really jumps ahead many, many generations and allows you to really develop for a machine that has massive amounts of hardware threads. 

And it really forces you to think a different way. It's a machine that is challenging to use, but it's also really rewarding. When you're doing it wrong, it will punish you. But when you're doing it right, it will really reward you. 

If you fire up more threads, there's just like infinite performance to get from that. On the other hand, each individual thread is comparatively slower. So if you don't multi-thread, you're going to get punished. 

I've been an Intel Innovator for a couple of years now and it's been a really cool program to be a part of. I've gotten to go to a lot of interesting conferences, met a lot of interesting people. I also get access to hardware way before it comes to market. And also, I get NDA access to all the information about what their hardware is going to look like in the future from Intel. And that's really, really useful for me as a software developer. 

This lighting application is being developed by Symmetry Labs. You should go to symmetrylabs.com to check out all the work we're doing with LEDs. On top of that, you can go to my personal website at quelsolaar.com, where you'll find lots of source code, open source stuff, and other projects that I've been doing lately.