Chapter 1. The New Architecture

 

If a person walks fast on a road covering fifty miles in a day, this does not mean he is capable of running unceasingly from morning till night. Even an unskilled runner may run all day, but without going very far.

 
 --Miyamoto Musahi, The Book of Five Rings

The most recent advances in microprocessor design for desktop computers involve putting multiple processors on a single computer chip. These multicore designs are completely replacing the traditional single core designs that have been the foundation of desktop computers. IBM, Sun, Intel, and AMD have all changed their chip pipelines from single core processor production to multicore processor production. This has prompted computer vendors such as Dell, HP, and Apple to change their focus to selling desktop computers with multicores. The race to control market share in this new area has each computer chip manufacturer pushing the envelope on the number of cores that can be economically placed on a single chip. All of this competition places more computing power in the hands of the consumer than ever before. The primary problem is that regular desktop software has not been designed to take advantage of the new multicore architectures. In fact, to see any real speedup from the new multicore architectures, desktop software will have to be redesigned.

The approaches to designing and implementing application software that will take advantage of the multicore processors are radically different from techniques ...

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