Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Want more?

In case you haven't noticed, processor speeds in the form of clock rates have not increased much in the last few years, yet higher performance CPUs are being delivered.  Moore's law is still in effect but increases in chip density are no longer being translated to increases in clock speed.  Instead, we are seeing more CPUs on a chip. 

Unfortunately, most of today's software doesn't know of these other CPUs or how to take advantage of them.  To harness this increased power, be they additional cores or distributed platforms, we need to look deeply at how software is written and compiled.  We need new algorithms, languages, compilers, and operating systems. 

Work has been done in this space but even today special, custom programming is needed to take advantage of multiple cores, vector processors, clusters and distributed grids.  The process needs to be more automatic, and we need to move it to the mainstream if we expect enjoy our faster machines and avoid this costly special attention. 

This is not a new problem; what's new is that we can no longer expect faster processing simply by putting in a CPU with a higher clock rate.  If tomorrow morning we want more, we will need to be thinking different.

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