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Intel: Developers Should Face up to Hundreds, Thousands of Cores

Intel: Developers Should Face up to Hundreds, Thousands of Cores

by , 1:55 PM EDT, July 1st, 2008

In his Intel blog on Monday, Anwar Ghuloum told developers he had some difficult news to deliver: developers should start to think about many, many more cores in the Intel CPUs -- perhaps thousands in the long term. Apple may be anticipating this with the new Grand Central technology in Snow Leopard.

Mr. Ghuloum commented that in discussions with developers, sometimes they're trying to do the "minimal amount of work they need to do to tap" the performance of Intel's dual, quad and larger core systems. However, he wrote:

"Increasingly, we are discussing how to scale performance to core counts that we aren't yet shipping (but in some cases we've hinted heavily that we're heading in this direction). Dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of cores are not unusual design points around which the conversations meander..."

Mr. Ghuloum went on to offer some sage advice: Developers should start thinking now, in the early stages of new development, what tools they're going to use and how they're going to code for a considerable number of cores.

The problem in the past has been that elegantly threading safe threads and making them all work well together has been a tough job, hampered by difficult and rudimentary APIs.

At WWDC, Apple told developers that they've developed a new, high level tool, Grand Central, that will facilitate the writing of highly threaded applications.

Current technology has reached its limits when it comes to managing and dissipating the heat generated by even low voltage 3.0 GHz-class processors. As a result, a fundamental change in technology has occurred: more power via more cores. Accordingly, new thinking is required to exploit multi-core CPUs.

"For more mainstream application developers, this advice is usually unwelcome ... but it is an encouraging sign that developers are increasingly coming to this realization on their own," Mr. Ghuloum noted.

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