Name: Professor David May

Designation: University of Bristol, Founder & CTO of XMOS

Title: Why are Multicores a Challenge?


We have been building parallel processors for over 50 years, but the design, programming and application of them is still seen to be a challenge.  There are several reasons for this: inappropriate choice of architecture, language or programming technique; a vast legacy of software based on sequential techniques; computing education focussed on sequential techniques; a lack of a general purpose parallel architecture; a lack of widely accepted parallel programming languages.

Multicore parallel processors are often promoted as a way to increase performance when no further increase in clock speed is possible.  But they have the potential to do far more than this: they can reduce cost, simplify and speed design, reduce energy and open up new application areas.  I will discuss some of the issues in designing multicore and manycore systems – and making them easy to use.


David May is the CTO and co-founder of XMOS, and Professor of Computer Science at Bristol University, UK. He graduated in CS from Cambridge University in 1972 and then spent several years working on architectures and languages for distributed processing. In 1979 he joined Inmos and then spent 16 years in the semiconductor industry. David was the architect of the Inmos Transputer – the first microprocessor designed to support multiprocessing – and the designer of the OCCAM concurrent programming language.  David joined Bristol University as Head of Computer Science in 1995 and continued an active involvement with Bristol’s growing microelectronics cluster and its investors. His most recent venture is XMOS, which he co-founded in 2005.  David has 40 granted patents with many pending patents centered around microprocessor technology. David was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1990 for his contributions to computer architecture and parallel computing, and a Fellow of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering in 2010.

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