The Core Wars

December 29th, 2008

CPUIt seems like the new thing in computer hardware is to get the most cores. If two is better than one, then why not four, or eight? But the truth of the matter is that processing power doesn’t necessarily increase at the same rate as the number of cores. One of the major problems is the “memory wall”, where the cores still share common memory and you’ll run into a situation where one core is waiting for another to finish using the memory bus. The linked article mentions the case where, for certain types of problems, a 16-core CPU has about the same processing power as a dual-core CPU. Yes, you read that right. The recommended solution is stacking memory on top of the CPU—I’m not sure what exactly that means, but I imagine we’ll be hearing more about it in the coming years.


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