Pipelining your laundry, and the ensuing silliness

Raymond Chen

One of my colleagues told us that her seven-year-old niece discovered the concept of pipelining while contemplating how her grandmother could have laundry in both the washing machine and dryer simultaneously.

Since we are nerds, we naturally tried to extend the metaphor to other features of modern CPU design. I pointed out that grandma probably had a quad-core stovetop. And if grandma started washing your favorite blanket when she heard you were coming (before you asked for it), that would be speculative execution. Or it could just be “because your grandma loves you.”

(Restaurants often engage in speculative execution when they see a regular who always orders the same thing.)

Another colleague challenged me to come up with an example of a laundry pipeline hazard. I sort of came up with the case of a two-piece outfit which is washed separately, but must be dried together for blocking purposes.

Of course, all this nerdiness was too much for some people. A colleague remarked, “Note to self: Keep my daughter away from these people.”


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