21 December 2006

Multiple Core Madness

I was thinking about multiple cores, like you do. One thing that most people haven't realise is that they have been using multiple CPUs for years, one has been your CPU and the other is the GPU - your graphics card. The graphics card is a very specialised computational unit, but it was added in order to offload processing from your main processor to something else to allow the processor to not get bogged down with graphics processing.

Now with the advent of dual core machines and the upcoming (or released in small quantities) quad core machines, a lot of users will probably not know they are using only a fraction of their processing power most of the time. Maybe it is time for the GPU to become one of those cores on the CPU?

At the moment the most likely use for multiple CPUs on Windows is one core to run your antivirus and your antispyware software and the rest you can use normally... At least that is what an article I read said multiple cores would be used for when they come out.

As the programmable GPUs start to become more common in the next generation of graphics cards they are becoming more and more like a general CPU, so it must be possible for the CPU with multiple cores to have a core or two behave more like a GPU? Certainly when the 8 core processors come out it would probably be quite nice to use multiple cores as the "graphics card".

I imagine though that there are people in labs much smarter than me already working on something like that or better. It's nearly 2007 after all and we are living in the future (well at least it sounds like the future to me) but we still have all of these different things cobbled together making up the current PCs. It would be sort of nice to see lots of processing converge onto the single multiple core chip as now they are more than capable of doing the tasks whereas ten years ago we still had a processor that was only capable of multitasking in a single core.