When more cores are just not enough

Tagged: amd, cpu, intel, Computer Hardware, Technology
Source: tweaktown - Read the full article
Posted: 4 years 34 weeks ago

"The CPU market is now flooded with multi-core and multi-threaded CPUs. We see them in everything from smartphones (with Dual Core Cortex A9 from ARM) to the highest end notebooks and desktops where the Core i7-980X is now king. But the question many people are asking is; what will more cores give me? - So let’s take a brief look at why even with 6 and 12 core CPUs in the channel we do not see better multi-thread and multi-tasking support in our applications and operating systems.

The question of what does more cores get me is an important one and one that needs to be answered by the big software companies. If you go back a few years (like around 10), you will see that it was not until very recently that even the big names like Microsoft began to seriously consider multiple CPUs or cores in their products. True, you had Windows NT that would support more than one CPU, but the scheduler that handled the tasks was very basic, though it still achieved the end result and allowed you to use more than one CPU through the OS.

In the professional space this was great and helped with production and content creation. In the consumer space there were very few applications that could deal with this, so it was up to the very immature task scheduler to deal with these in what it felt was the most efficient manner. From Windows NT we moved to Windows 2000 then to Windows XP (yes, I know, I am skipping over a few years here). Of these two, only XP had rudimentary support for consumer level SMP and SMT systems. But, again this was not a very mature or efficient product.

In fact, there was quite a large issue with the Home version of XP and anything with more than one CPU. The problem centered on the poorly written task scheduler and the power management. If you had a dual core CPU (or dual CPU system) and only one core was active, the PWM system would still try to throttle down both cores. This caused many systems to slow down dramatically or simply lockup. This was one of the reasons that most gamers and enthusiasts used Windows XP Professional over Home (there were others, but this was a big one)..."