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“Multi Core Processors” Zooming

Posted on July 24, 2010 in Sci-Tech

By Rishabh Prasad:

We all remember working on single core CPUs or we might still be using them. But let me remind you readers, these have officially become extinct. Now, Single-core CPUs are actually hard to find and two-, three-, and four-core CPUs are now the norm.

In computing, a processor (short form for CPU or microprocessor) is the unit that reads and executes program instructions, which are fixed-length (typically 32 or 64 bit) or variable-length chunks of data. The data in the instruction tells the processor what to do.

In the earlier ages of the computerized era, the developments in the processors were confined to the clock speed involved. PC enthusiasts thought that the only way to increase the power is to increase the clock speed. After the new millennium, the clock speed went past 1GHz mark and developers were looking forward to 10 GHz. But the acceleration became stagnant after 4 GHz mark as increasing the clock speed increased the heat produced. Indeed, the fastest commercial CPUs have been hovering between 3 GHz and 4 GHz for a number of years now. Engineers now focused solely on increasing the efficiency rather than clock speed.

Intel Core 2 Duo

Parallelism offered itself as the solution. Parallel computing is a form of computation in which many calculations are carried out simultaneously, operating on the principle that large problems can often be divided into smaller ones, which are then solved concurrently (“in parallel”). This technology came into being with the introduction of multi core processors. A multi-core processor is a processing system composed of two or more independent cores. In 2005, engineers came up with Dual Core processors.

An AMD Multicore Chip

With the gigahertz race largely abandoned, both AMD and Intel are trying to pack more cores onto a die in order to continue to improve processing power and aid with multitasking operations. Quad core computers have already occupied the market. Intel have been working on their hex core (6 cores) processors and Core i7 (8 cores) processors. AMD has also entered the 6 core arena with its Phenom II X6 processors.

The Intel Quad Core Processor- Multi Core

Now, these multi core processors are heading towards “many core” processors. A many-core processor is one in which the number of cores is large enough that traditional multi-processor techniques are no longer efficient – this threshold is somewhere in the range of several tens of cores. Intel had plans to come up with 32 core processors but unfortunately cancelled due to some technical issues. But in 2007, Intel demonstrated the 80 core processor which made everyone go dumbstruck.

Intel says “hundreds” of cores may come even farther down the line. By then, leadership will be decided by who has the most cores. What we see today, is just the beginning of the core war.

The writer is a Tech-Columnist at Youth Ki Awaaz.