Chapter 1. Hardware Platform

 

What mathematical problems should a computing machine solve?

 
 --Konrad Zuse, 1934
 

To build new specifications from given specifications by a prescription.

 
 --His answer in 1936
 

Computing is the deviation of result specifications to any specifications by a prescription.

 
 --His extended definition in 1946

What performance a software system exhibits often solely depends on the raw speed of the underlying hardware platform, which is largely determined by the central processing unit (CPU) horsepower of a computer. What scalability a software system exhibits depends on the scalability of the architecture of the underlying hardware platform as well. I have had many experiences with customers who reported that slow performance of the software system was simply caused by the use of undersized hardware. It's fair to say that hardware platform is the number one most critical factor in determining the performance and scalability of a software system. We'll see in this chapter the two supporting case studies associated with the Intel® hyperthreading technology and new Intel multicore processor architecture.

As is well known, the astonishing advances of computers can be characterized quantitatively by Moore's law. Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore stated in his 1965 seminal paper that the density of transistors on a computer chip is increasing exponentially, doubling approximately every two years. The trend has continued for more than half a century and is not expected ...

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