Shopping for Silicon
Shopping for Silicon Desktop and portable processors
High clock rate is a cost, not a benefit; it drives up costs of everything else in the machine. Application benchmarks tell the story that matters. Compact, quiet systems give back desk space, reduce workplace noise levels and cut air conditioning costs. Small-footprint desktop and high-function laptop systems should dominate the next wave of desktop buys, likely by the end of next year.
Bandwidth, not processor power, is the engineering challenge. IBM and AMD are addressing this directly; Intel is trying to solve it with lots of cache. Ask about scalability of multiprocessor systems: Is there a near-term road map to four-way and beyond? Chip builders are looking for things to do with more on-chip transistors. Application accelerators for compute-intensive tasks, such as encryption, will characterize next-generation server designs.
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