Although both Microsoft and Intel's R&D departments have been responsible for some nifty futuristic tech, the two companies got together last week and announced a $20M grant to two universities to "start over" and develop next-gen computing systems based around parallel processing. The grant will fund Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at UC -Berkeley, which is kicking in another $7M, and the University of Illinois at Champaign / Urbana, which is donating $8M of its own. According to Mark Snir, head of the UIUC lab, the goal is to find a way to make "parallelism so easy to use that parallel programming becomes synonymous with programming" -- an increasingly important priority as current multi-core processors aren't necessarily being fully utilized, and 100-core processors aren't far off. That leads us to wonder: what to do with all that newly-unlocked processing power? Virtual-reality Facebook? Real-time visual augmentation? Finally being able to run Crysis? We know you've got ideas -- sound off in comments!

[Thanks, Luke]