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[CNET.COM] Thousand Core Processors

post #1 of 8
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Intel is telling software developers to start thinking about not just tens but thousands of processing cores.

Intel currently offers quad-core processors and is expected to bring out a Nehalem processor in the fourth quarter that uses as many as eight cores.

But the chipmaker is now thinking well beyond the traditional processor in a PC or server. Jerry Bautista, the co-director of the Tera-scale Computing Research Program at Intel, recently said that in a graphics-intensive environment the more cores Intel can build the better. "The more cores we have the better. Provided that we can supply memory bandwidth to the device."

On Monday, an Intel engineer took this a step further. Writing in a blog, Anwar Ghuloum, a principal engineer with Intel's Microprocessor Technology Lab, said: "Ultimately, the advice I'll offer is that...developers should start thinking about tens, hundreds, and thousands of cores now."

He said that Intel faces a challenge in "explaining how to tap into this performance." He continues: "Sometimes, the developers are trying to do the minimal amount of work they need to do to tap dual- and quad-core performance...I suppose this was the branch most discussions took a couple of years ago."

Now, however, Intel is increasingly "discussing how to scale performance to core counts that we aren't yet shipping...Dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of cores are not unusual design points around which the conversations meander," he said.

He says that the more radical programming path to tap into many processing cores "presents the 'opportunity' for a major refactoring of their code base, including changes in languages, libraries, and engineering methodologies and conventions they've adhered to for (often) most of the their software's existence."

"Eventually, developers realize that the end point is on the other side of a mountain of silicon innovations...Program for as many cores as possible, even if it is more cores than are currently in shipping products."
Source

It's nothing we don't already know, its bound to happen eventually. I found it to be a pretty interesting read.


Apologies if its a repost, did a quick search and nothing came up.
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post #2 of 8
There need to be more apps and games that utilize all these cores.
post #3 of 8
i ahve always been wondering why CPU intensive apps arent made to dynamically spread their workload over any available number of processing cores or units.
post #4 of 8
Uh, more cores huh... I can't even use the 4 core I have now why 100 or a thousand? We need a new achietecture.
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post #5 of 8
Why dont they work on things like the CELL processor. Them things are beasts
    
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post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MangoMan View Post
Uh, more cores huh... I can't even use the 4 core I have now why 100 or a thousand? We need a new achietecture.
Your missing the point.

Intel wants developers to not think about making software and engines for 10 cores, but for 100, or 1000 cores.

Scalability is what the PC world needs right now, and thats what Intel is telling developers to do.
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post #7 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by MangoMan View Post
Uh, more cores huh... I can't even use the 4 core I have now why 100 or a thousand? We need a new achietecture.
For future scaling. Did you even read the article?
post #8 of 8
The problem is that it's highly non-trivial to do this, and sometimes it's not actually possible, or even if it is possible, it may actually lead to worse performance. There is always a communication cost when making a program parallel. If that cost is too high, then performance may actually decrease when running multiple threads. It's usually hard to write efficient parallel code.

You can't just take some program and say, "Hey, let's spread the work over multiple cores! Bada-bing!" Some algorithms just don't lend themselves to parallelization and have large portions that must be executed serially. I'm sure there will be programs that take big advantage of many cores, but there will also be other programs that just can't do it.

It depends on if the task is made up of millions of independent calculations, or if it's more like a series of steps that's hard to break up into independent pieces. Of course, when two threads aren't completely independent, they can always communicate, but that involves them waiting on each other for answers, which is the big cost that often hurts parallel performance.

I guess my point is that parallel algorithms is a huge area of research right now. There's simply a lot of things that we still don't know about concurrency, so many programs will be very difficult to parallelize until we learn more.
Edited by Muhahahaha - 7/2/08 at 11:52am
    
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