Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 15th Jun 2007 12:08 UTC, submitted by cragnotil
Intel Researchers at Intel are working on ways to mask the intricate functionality of massive multicore chips to make it easier for computer makers and software developers to adapt to them. These multicore chips will also likely contain both x86 processing cores, as well as other types of cores. A 64-core chip, for instance, might contain 42 x86 cores, 18 accelerators and four embedded graphics cores. In addition, Intel has updated its Itanium roadmap.
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Not convinced
by ecko on Fri 15th Jun 2007 13:56 UTC
ecko
Member since:
2005-07-08

I'm still not convinced that this massive number of cores is going to be the right way to go from here on out. Transferring scheduling complexity into software is a concept that hasn't worked well for Intel before and it makes me wonder why they're doing this again.

If we look back at the Itanium we see one of it's major drawbacks was that to get the full power out of the chip, you needed to have 3 instructions running at any given time. Anyone who's written for the Itanium will tell you that keep the thing running at 100% capacity was nearly impossible unless you were talking about crunching raw numbers in an easily parallelized way.

I'm also curious to see how Intel is dealing with the massive amounts of traffic that are going to be traveling across the CPU bus. Cache synchronization between that many cores must be a nightmare.

I saw the justification for 2 cores and even 4 cores. Ok I'll even stretch it to 8 for very specialized applications and high def video encoding.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Not convinced
by MightyPenguin on Fri 15th Jun 2007 14:46 in reply to "Not convinced"
MightyPenguin Member since:
2005-11-18

You're absolutely right.

Let's not take this hardware thing too far, after all, "640K is more memory than anyone will ever need"

(no, supposedly Gates never said that)

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Not convinced
by Kroc on Fri 15th Jun 2007 14:55 in reply to "RE: Not convinced"
Kroc Member since:
2005-11-10

If so, can I go on the record in saying "Two cores is more than anyone will ever need". I'm more likely to be remembered for saying something wrong, than something right.

In other news, a man got stuck in his toilet when he forgot to put the seat down. He said that he wouldn't have done it, if he had hindsight.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Not convinced
by Marcellus on Fri 15th Jun 2007 14:52 in reply to "Not convinced"
Marcellus Member since:
2005-08-26

Anyone who's written for the Itanium will tell you that keep the thing running at 100% capacity was nearly impossible unless you were talking about crunching raw numbers in an easily parallelized way.

Isn't number crunching why you'd go Itanium?

Aside from that, it's not like Intel is not doing anything (developer tools wise) to help take advantage of more cores, etc.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Not convinced
by ecko on Mon 18th Jun 2007 13:52 in reply to "RE: Not convinced"
ecko Member since:
2005-07-08

Isn't number crunching why you'd go Itanium?

It is but that's not what it was designed for. Intel originally wanted the Itanium to take over the server market first and move on to desktop chips in the future. It didn't work out that way and for a while it looked like Intel was going to lose it's shirt on the chip. If you want to crunch lots of numbers in a specialized scientific app you can use some sort of vector processor(Cell, Alitvec) which is designed to work on multiple pieces of data at once not a general purpose CPU that can run 3 instructions at once.

I'm not saying that multiple cores are a bad thing, far from it, I'm saying that software has a long long way to go and I don't think we'll get there until long after these chips are out and we have some time to play. Parallelism is something we(Computer Scientists) have been trying to do forever and there's just some things that can't be done in parallel.

There are lots of bottlenecks in CPU architecture right now, memory bandwidth is the most obvious.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE: Not convinced
by Luminair on Fri 15th Jun 2007 15:35 in reply to "Not convinced"
Luminair Member since:
2007-03-30

"Right way", more like "only way".

Intel and AMD can see the chip frequency ceiling, and it isn't very far ahead of what we have now. They are doing the multicore thing now because their business would be damaged if they ran out of frequency increases to sell people, but they still have to innovate and increase performance. So they are pacing themselves on the core speeds, and multiplying the number of cores.

And today, multiple cores are the best alternative way to increase total chip performance.

PS: Desktop users can easily find uses for 2-4 cores. These will prevent lockups when Outlook takes all the CPU time from IE, for example. But using 128 or 500 cores is a huge problem to solve, so we are trying to solve it ASAP. Imagine programming in a language "easier" than Java but is faster than C because it runs on 64 cores. That is the kind of dream that some computer scientists would like to see become a reality, but it is a very hard thing to do ;) ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Not convinced
by Silent_Seer on Fri 15th Jun 2007 18:08 in reply to "Not convinced"
Silent_Seer Member since:
2007-04-06

It's simple, use a compiler that exploits parallelism in the code and distribute the tasks across the cores, just like MIPS did. Trouble is, one must use a recompiled software for such a processor (using a compiler specifically targetted for such processors). With the emphasis being on compatibility, (meaning old software) yes, keeping all the cores busy is problem. And Intel by the way does have native compilers which can do the above task mentioned.

More is simply better, in my opinion. Let the native software for these chips arrive, along with improvements (not that they are already not there) in OSes to take advantage of the multiple cores. I am sure they will blow away everthing there was before. And this is just in case of Intel, but also Ultrasparc, Cell etc.

Reply Parent Score: 1