Amazing how many smart El Reg readers missed the point
The authors picked a really simple problem for which we have a lot of analysis and some very good solutions, and showed that a really poor algorithmic choice falls far outside the achievable frontier. No doubt they did a bit of searching over languages etc to find a really bad starting point.
But it is beside the point to argue that they should have used a modern BLAS library, a better language, and other optmisations that are obvious to all of us. They showed that there are design choices which make orders-of-magnitude differences to the performance of this very simple and well-understood problem.
But now, apply that to problems that are not well-understood and for which there are no conveniently pre-optimised libraries: the database structures from which you extract that complicated query, or the nonlinear pattern-matching algorithm, or whatever programming and software design task you get paid for. Can thinking more carefully about your fundamental approach to the data structures or the mathematics yield orders of magnitude improvements? Given that we can no longer count on major improvements in future processing speed, we will have to depend on improving our high-level thinking about data structures, algorithms, and suitable programming languages.
This is a very self-evident point, for which the authors have offered a correspondingly trivial example. My initial thought was that the article was not interesting enough to be publishable. But a surprising number of commentators have attacked the example and missed the underlying point, so perhaps the point is not as self-evident as it ought to be.