Getting to Work

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-06-19 Print this article Print

So Intel is getting to work. In some cases, the company is working directly with large software makers. Elsewhere, its Software Products Group is offering tools to assist programmers with multithreading, said James Reinders, director of marketing and business development for the groups Developer Products Division, also in Hillsboro.
The tools, including compilers, performance libraries, tuners and thread checkers, aim to address such challenges as scalability—how to make an application run faster on more than one core—correctness, or eliminating bugs, as well as ease of development.
"Were definitely seeing movement in attitudes of developers" toward multithreaded applications," Reinders said. "Over the next five years, I think well see most developers take and interest in understanding parallelism more." At least one company, MainConcept, a maker of video codecs, has already adopted multicore, said CEO Markus Monig, in Aachen, Germany. MainConcept found that optimizing for dual-core chips using Intels tools gave it a performance edge. Codecs run about "1.8 times faster on dual-core machines, because you can actually cut the picture into slices and feed them to the separate processors," Monig said. "For us, the shift to multicore development has been pretty dramatic." He predicted others will follow. "Companies like us who are driven to be competitive … will have to," he said. "If your codec isnt fast, nobody will buy it. There can be lots of benefit [for] applications which take a lot of CPU power." To be sure, despite extensive backing inside Intels Corporate Technology Group—about 80 projects and 40 percent of the groups researchers are involved in Tera-scale research in some manner—and the existence of several niche markets that could take advents of such technology today, Tera-scale may never fully come to light. To be used in a production processor, Tera-Scale technology would have to first be adopted by an Intel product group. Not all of the companys research projects are. Meanwhile, Intels PC processors are the companys bread and butter. Its executives are reluctant to make quick changes with them. Thus the company could switch directions and use a different technique to add more cores to its chips. "Im really excited about Tera-Scale. Its just finding the right time to intersect" with Intels product lines, Pawlowski said. "It would not be prudent of me to jeopardize our high-volume product line on a technology that still has some gestation period to go through." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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