Symbiotic Relationship

June 14th, 2007

Ive lamented in my May 25 article that chip makers are churning out multicore processors like theres no tomorrow. Although Intel and AMDs intention of building processors induced by steroids hasnt gone past the blueprint stage yet, the two companies promised that it will materialize sooner than many expect.

What For?

You might be surprised at the word that Ive used to describe the dizzying pace at which chip producers are coming up with new and more powerful products. Of course, having a faster processor is not a development that anybody should grieve about. On the contract, its a news that everybody should welcome.

What is lamentable though, is that the extra speed might be rendered meaningless if programs would not be able to utilize the extra cores. Take note that nothing much has changed in the past few years in application design. Many software authors are still writing codes that recognize only single core processors.

With Software Makers in Mind

Though application authors admit that they are having a hard time in keeping up with their counterparts in the chip making industry, the latter isnt in the mood to underscore the formers shortcomings. In fact, designers and scientists at Intel are lending a few of their cores (the natural, biological ones) to PC manufacturers and application developers in order for them to quickly adapt to the new trend in chip design.

Intel knows that arriving at the finish line first is practically meaningless. Throwing esoteric designs at software makers would certainly be of no help in their campaign to maximize the use and potentials of their multicore chips. This is the reason why the company has decided to retain the x86 design of its chips. X86 processing cores are the ones being used today in many of Intels chips and servers. Many software developers are already familiar with this design. Hence, Intel expects that they wont be having a hard time catching up.

A Lending Hand

The worlds most popular chip producer might chew some of the meat that software makers should be swallowing. Ordinarily, the task of telling the chip on what processes should be done or prioritized falls on application developers. Intel wants to hasten up the shift to multicore computing by taking up the task of directing traffic that goes in and out of its processor, arranging operations according their importance. The company intends to do this by making cores share caches.

Not Perfect

While Intel is bullish that multicore chips would become the industry standard within half a decades time, it admits that there are still a number of issues that it has to be resolved in order to ensure that the chip would be able to shuffle processes without a glitch. One of the companys major concerns is heat. At the speed by which multicore processors will transfer data, it would not be surprising that the temperature levels inside the CPU will rise several degrees higher. Intel is still looking for an efficient way to curb heat buildup.

Adaptation

One of the ways by which software adapts to new hardware, or vice versa, is the incorporation of device drivers which updates both programs and peripherals about the changes. This is the most practical way of updating your system and making sure that they work harmoniously despite the significant changes. So dont harbor the misconception that a device driver finder is only useful during the release of new operating systems. You will definitely need this tool when changes occur in your system.

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Entry Filed under: Device Drivers

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