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Old 12-21-2004, 06:41 PM   #1
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Industry gears up for 'two-headed' chips

QUOTE:
"...Though the tiny switches built in silicon are the heart of the digital revolution, they can't shrink forever. And in recent years, chip companies have struggled to keep a lid on power and heat — the result of some transistor components getting as thin as a few atoms across.

Now, the world's leading semiconductor companies have unveiled a remarkably similar strategy for working around the problem: In 2005, microprocessors sold for personal computers will sprout what amounts to two heads each.


Instead of building processors with a single core to handle calculations, designers will place two or more computing engines on a single chip. They won't run as fast as single-engine models, but they won't require as much power, either, and will be able to handle more work at "

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Old 12-22-2004, 09:18 AM   #2
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Took them long enough to figure that one out, lol. What about various people trying to design 3D dimensional chips/circuitry instead of today's flat, single layer ones? Linky:

http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1558,5090,00.asp
http://news.com.com/Start-up+has+fe...0_3-276609.html
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Old 12-22-2004, 07:52 PM   #3
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It couldn't have taken them as long as people think, because it processor projects have around a 3-5
year timetable. AMD disclosed their dual-core plans back in 2001, for example. And the Montecito
project (which started under a different code name) was intended to be a dual-core product when
development started back in 2000... and intended for launch in 2005.

Those are just a couple of examples... the point is that the transition started a long time ago.
 
Old 12-22-2004, 09:25 PM   #4
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forget all of that. it's 2005... where the hell are my flying cars?!?
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Old 12-22-2004, 11:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Harris
forget all of that. it's 2005... where the hell are my flying cars?!?

Right here!
http://www.moller.com/skycar/
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Old 12-23-2004, 05:38 AM   #6
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What will this transition mean for our games? Will Doom3 for example run slower on a brand new dual core chip because it doesn't take advantage of it? Maybe these new chips will have features that will make the transition easier, ie current crop / early upcoming games that don't run slower.
 
Old 12-23-2004, 06:14 AM   #7
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I've been waiting for the general press to catch on to the significance of the move to multi core CPUs. It's been my experience in over 11 years of interviewing developers that honestly less than 1% of developers can be trusted to write multi threaded code.

The end of the "for free" year-on-year performance increase we've enjoyed so far for single threaded code is hugely significant. Even if you can thread safely, not all algorthims are suitable for parallelization.

For the vast majority of home-office users todays machines truely are fast enough. The rabid gamers will probably be OK since game devs tend have more experience of writing parallel algorthims, esp. if they worked on consoles (or written against a GPU for that matter). Doubtless we'll see dozens of "Teach yourself threading in 21 days" <shudder> books. In years of writing threading code I'm still learning new stuff (i.e. the true semantics of volatile in C++ and the good old double-lock pattern etc). To paraphrase the comment about quantum mechanics, "If you're not afraid of multi-threading you haven't understood it", or rather you haven't had to debug it on a 4 way system.
 
Old 12-23-2004, 01:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeruel the 14th
What will this transition mean for our games? Will Doom3 for example run slower on a brand new dual core chip because it doesn't take advantage of it? Maybe these new chips will have features that will make the transition easier, ie current crop / early upcoming games that don't run slower.

Why would they be any slower? If the game isn't presently multithreaded, it will run on a dual-core
processor just like it was a single-core processor. The only difference is that clock speed will ramp more quickly on the single-core models, since they won't be as hot (fewer transistors). That alone will
make the single-core processors more desirable for games for quite a while.

Parallel programming introduces a host of new challenges that very few developers have had to deal
with so far, and most of the ones who have, ad dotTom pointed out, didn't actually figure it out anyway.
However, that won't last forever; the tools will improve, developers will (gradually) learn, and researchers will figure out new ways to parallelize algorithms. Eventually, it won't make any sense to
have a single- core processor anyway, and in fact it probably won't even be all that long before we
start seeing more than two cores in mainstream processors.

Justr watch AMD and Intel shift their marketing war from clock speed to core count
 
Old 12-23-2004, 04:34 PM   #9
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So far dual processors are really only used for servers, so I think it will be the same for dual headed chiips. Maybe they should try and go for 128 bit or 256 bit processors instead of just 64 bit.
 
Old 12-23-2004, 04:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arquebus
So far dual processors are really only used for servers,

And workstations.

Quote:
so I think it will be the same for dual headed chiips. Maybe they should try and go for 128 bit or 256 bit processors instead of just 64 bit.

No, they shouldn't. It wouldn't do anyone any good; even now we're just edging up on the limits imposed by 32-bit processors, and the amount of memory a 64-bit processor, even limited to 40 or 48
bit physical addressing would, if stacked, reach the moon. We don't have that much physical ram in
the entire world right now.

So why would anyone want to waste their precious transistor budget on a 128 bit processor?
Realistically, there's only one company in the world that could afford to spend transistors that
frivilously, and they have more important things to worry about than silly marketing claims, like heat.

There are those who actually believe that more bits = more performance, but there's no relationship
between the two in the real world.
 
Old 12-23-2004, 06:26 PM   #11
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ive been waiting for multicore processors for quie a while, and quite impatiently, to boot. (no pun intended)

the original k8 (opteron, clawhammer, and sledgehammer) included multicore extensions as part of their original design philosophy. i buy opteron systems because they actually have an upgrade path, including drop in replacement! (the current batch of dual s940 motherboards will have compatible parts to make then effectively quad processor systems-dual dual cored)

i was also wondering when this would make headlines outside of the tech industry. interestingly: other people will finally see the real world 'creamy goodness' of SMP computing, while the current SMP crop upgrades to quad processing.

i'm drooling already.
 
Old 12-24-2004, 08:10 AM   #12
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Dual processors are only used in servers? Wow. I didn't know that all of apple's desktop systems were used as servers.
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Old 12-24-2004, 10:22 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1001 JediNights
Dual processors are only used in servers? Wow. I didn't know that all of apple's desktop systems were used as servers.

Since when where all of Apple's desktop systems SMP? ;-) Then again the comment about SMP being a server only thing is just wrong, it's a server / workstation technology.
 
Old 12-24-2004, 10:27 AM   #14
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Okay, most. Three of the four systems available on their site are dual.
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Old 12-24-2004, 10:55 AM   #15
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well for starters duals are useful as render slaves...but anyway, what is still not settled about dual core chips is the software licensing, the industry cant decide wether to treat them as single or dual chips, consequently per processor licenses for rendering and software could get either cheaper or more expensive depending on your position.

So although one part of the industry is moving forward, another is stuck in a quagmire and we're stuck in the middle.
 
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