April 5, 2006

Mac/Intel stuff. Not of interest to most...

Lots of people are writing right now about Boot Camp, the Apple software that lets you install Windows XP on one of the new Intel Macs. It's awesome, but I don't have anything special to add to the discussion...

But I was most interested today in some stuff that probably won't affect me for a few years...multiple threads running on multi-core Intel processors!

Mac OS Rumors: A critical component of not only Mac OS X 10.5 "Leopard," but also the Cocoa/Carbon for Windows package (more details in linked article above) will be new code co-developed with Intel that helps break up tasks into multiple threads -- therefore achieving considerably better efficiency on the next generation of multi-core Intel processors. The results we've seen on systems with up to 16 cores of Intel's next-generation "Conroe" desktop CPU architecture were amazing...

...The problem is, simply, getting all of those cores to have the maximum possible positive effect on the performance of each application. When simulating the realistic workloads of almost every kind of user, more than four cores rapidly lost any effect because there just weren't enough threads, efficiently enough balanced, to make good use of more CPU's.

Leopard changes this in every way that Apple and Intel have been able to devise. The techniques employed include tricks that both companies have been holding at ready for years, and some new things that have been developed in the past year or so to specifically address the way the "Core" (Yonah, Merom and Napa-Merom) and Codename 'Conroe' architectures work. Most of it goes beyond our technical competency; we're sure that the folks at Ars Technica will have a lot to say about this in the next few months as more details leak about the hardware and software involved in these enhancements...

Wild stuff. 16 cores. 32 cores. The mind reels. And it tends to support those who said that having Apple and Intel working together was at least as important for Intel as for Apple. Intel needs exciting new developments in computing, to give people a reason to buy the most expensive new chips. Commodity Wintel box makers don't have any interest in such stuff. Nor does Microsoft.

Posted by John Weidner at April 5, 2006 9:31 PM
Weblog by John Weidner