Posted on November 21, 2006
Do more with a Quad Core!
An interesting article I wrote in response to one in PC Magazine. Check it out at pcmag.com
This article relates with the part of the course focusing on the Little Man Computer in chapter 6. The LMC is representative of the CPU (Central Processing Unit) of a computer, and broadly describes how it operates. Although the LMC is an extremely basic analogy for what a processor does, the general theory behind how it works is the same for any processor, regardless of the amount of cores. A multiple core processor means that it is able to execute multiple instructions simultaneously, whereas the Little Man in the LMC was only capable of executing one. It is essentially like have four Little Man Computers working simultaneously carrying out separate tasks. This article also applies to what we have learned about Bus lines in Lecture 4. A bus is a circuit that connects two different parts of the processor. The article mentions that the processor has a 1066 MHz front side bus shared between the two sets of cores. This is how the sections of the CPU send instructions to each other as well as memory and other peripherals.
Mooreâ€™s Law states that the number of transistors on a processor will double every two years. Essentially, this article is about that. The Quad-Core processor is cutting-edge technology in computing, and, although currently expensive, will shortly become commonplace (before being replaced by the next high-performance processor, thanks again to Mooreâ€™s Law!). Another interesting aspect of this processor is that it is designed to have a relatively fast manufacturing time since all the cores of the processor are identical and can be produced quicker, therefore being on the market sooner and inexpensive (relative to performance). These are all great features, but the most interesting feature of this processor is its ability to be overclocked. This allows a processor to be instructed to operate at a speed faster than it is originally designed. Going too fast can make it overheat and harm it, but within certain limits you can make it perform like a more expensive processor for a lower price. Benchmark tests showed that even when set to run at a faster speed, it didnâ€™t generate unnecessary heat, even when doing a lot of processing.
This new technology will definitely change the future of Information Systems. Processors are constantly evolving, becoming more and more efficient and cost effective. This shows promise for increasing potential in servers and other computers that are the backbones of Information Systems. Faster processing means the capability of allowing more users on a system, handling more information simultaneously. As these faster processors become commonplace, it will also allow regular users to access applications that previously required extremely expensive computers to run. For example, in most companies, budgets will ensure that their graphic design or art departments will typically have the higher end computer systems that their memory and processor intensive programs require. As these new multiple core processors become less expensive and readily available, most users will have the necessary processing power to run these programs. In benchmark tests, the quad-core processor showed extreme improvements in creating multimedia content, and significant advantages in using typical office applications. In addition, with the upcoming release of Windows Vista, which is designed for multiple core processors, processors like the quad-core will have a significant advantage over todayâ€™s standards.