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ISRG and the Post-PC Era. David Culler U.C. Berkeley ISRG Retreat Jan, 1999. Why is Internet-Scale Systems Research Concerned with Small “Post-PC” Devices?. Small Devices. billions. The Emerging Platform Pyramid. SuperComputers. SuperServers. 100s. Departmental Servers. 10Ks.

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ISRG and the Post-PC Era

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Isrg and the post pc era

ISRG and the Post-PC Era

David Culler

U.C. Berkeley

ISRG Retreat

Jan, 1999.

Why is internet scale systems research concerned with small post pc devices

Why is Internet-Scale Systems Research Concerned with Small “Post-PC” Devices?

ISRG Retreat

The emerging platform pyramid



The Emerging Platform Pyramid




Departmental Servers




< Million

Personal Computers

100 millions

ISRG Retreat

Future internet scale systems

Future Internet-Scale Systems

  • ~10 Billion of Information Appliances

  • ~100 Million of Stationary Computers

  • ~Million Scalable Servers

ISRG Retreat

Natural convergence

Natural Convergence

  • “Internet-Scale” => system reaches “everywhere”

    • small devices will be what is “wherever”

  • Small devices provide powerful services

    • because the intelligence is in the infrastructure

  • The breakthrough ahead is pervasive devices + communication

  • Services, adaptation, access, customization, simplicity, efficiency, ...

ISRG Retreat

Seeds sewn in many projects

Seeds sewn in many projects

  • Infopad, Wingman, Mediaboard, Notepals, ...

  • Ninja - platform architecture

    • powerful services on small devices through a powerful infrastructure

  • Iceberg - integration of computing and telephony

  • Notepals - new user interfaces

  • IRAM - high performance multimedia at low power

  • Aetherstore - the data is out there

  • Demos around you...

ISRG Retreat

A radical experiment

A Radical Experiment

  • What we need is not a new research project

  • It is a new “computing culture”

ISRG Retreat

Game plan oct 1998

Game Plan (Oct 1998)

Build a department-wide, universal wireless PDA infrastructure

  • Initial Seed: 150+ IBM workpads + lots of cradles + IR + ???

  • Running UI classes on them

  • Bring in all interested 1st year CS grads

  • Fill out based on interest, talent and availability

  • next generation wider and better

    => “ask a good question and get yours” seminar

ISRG Retreat

Fall 98 project excerpts see posters

Fall’98 Project Excerpts (see posters)

  • E-Commerce and Security

    • Pay-Per-Use Services on the Palm Computing Platform (Mike Chen, Andrew Geweke)

    • Secure Email Infrastructure for PDAs (Hoon Kang, Rob von Behren)

    • SyncAnywhere - Secure Network HotSync (Mike Chen, Helen Wang)

  • Groupware

    • Kiretsu - Ninja Instant Messaging Service (Matt Welsh, Steve Gribble)

    • The MASH MediaPad - Shared Electronic Whiteboard for the PalmPilot (Yatin Chawathe)

    • NotePals - Lightweight Meeting Support Using PDAs (Richard Davis)

    • OSKI - Open Shared Kalendaring Infrastructure (Jason Hong, Brad Morrey, Mark Newman)

  • OS and Communications

    • PalmRouter - Networking Sporadically Connected Devices (Andras Ferencz, Robert Szewczyk)

  • Numerous Architecture Studies

  • CS160 UI Projects (see James Landay talk)

    • Ink Chat, Nutrition/Excercise Tracker, Rendezvous - Meeting Scheduler

ISRG Retreat

Some lessons

Some Lessons

  • Communication is enabling

  • Virtual Environment really is a good thing

    • Devices connect “into the infrastructure”

    • Network HotSync, groupware, centralized e-mail

      => Need lean, clean communication substrate

  • Much room for improvement in devices

  • Palm III (WorkPad) is too slow…

    • adaptation involves trading cycles for bandwidth and interoperability

ISRG Retreat



  • Development effort is the limiting factor

    • OSKI: 1 person for infrastructure, 2 for WorkPad

    • Debugging is particularly hard

      => need complete system simulation environment

  • “User Service” is fundamental

    • not just profile and customization info

    • routing point for security

  • Surprising similarities with the “infrastructure problem”

ISRG Retreat

Phase 2 plan real users

Phase 2 Plan: Real Users

  • Deploy some real WorkPad services

    • Secure e-mail

    • Network HotSync

    • Group Calendar

  • Widespread use of at least one service

    • more than 50 users?

    • highly available/reliable

ISRG Retreat

Historical perspective

Historical Perspective

  • New eras of computing start when the previous era is so strong it is hard to imagine that things could be different

    • mainframe -> mini

    • mini -> workstation -> PC

    • PC -> ???

  • It is always smaller than what came before.

  • Most think of the new technology as “just a toy”

  • The new dominant use was almost completely absent before.

  • So where are we headed in the post-PC era?

ISRG Retreat

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