So what are multi-core processors?
A multi-core processor is one which combines two or more independent processors into a single package, often a single integrated circuit.
An independent processor = a Core
Multiple cores are made to work in parallel to achieve better performance
More cores = Better performance
Increase in the no of transistors
Every 18 months component density doubles.
A system used methods like Concurrency and others to achieve speedups.
Some physical limitations were threatening to come in the way of processor performance improvement.
Why so much Hype about Multi-core technology?!?
It all started 7 years ago, when chip makers realized that single core processor was reaching its threshold in performance.
Overheating became a critical issue.
Dependence on the processor frequency and no of transistors in the chip for performance improvement.
Clock Speed increases until ~2003 then levels off.
It was in this deadlock kind of situation, the concept of ‘multiple cores in a single chip’ emerged.
A chip with two cores, working in parallel could accomplish twice as much as a chip with one core.
Since then the performance factor has been going up significantly with the increase of no of cores..
How has this helped us?
Performance upgrade, which is obvious. If each core is working at say 2.5GHz, then a dual core processor can work at speeds from 4 – 4.5GHz, which is never achievable using a single core processor.
Lower power usage and Overheating issues.
Multi-core processors gave rise to Multi-core programming which is said to be an important leap in software development than that of OO.
A simple multi-core architecture consists of 2 independent working processors.
Each core or CPU consists of its own set of Execution unit and Cache.
There are other multi-core architectures.
Multi-core with shared memory
Multi-core with Hyper Threading technology
Some Facts and terminologies
Intel and AMD ( Advanced Micro Devices ) are the 2 giants in desktop/laptop processor manufacturers.
A Dual core processor is a simplest multi-core processor running with 2 independent cores.
AMD Phenom II X2
Intel Core Duo
Similarly there are Quad core, Hexa core are processors with 4 and 6 cores.
AMD Phenom has both its 4 and 6 core versions
Intel has the new Core line processors.
Core i5 has a quad /dual core variant.
Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition 980X is a 6 core processor.
Intel Xeon ‘V8’ was launched recently which has 2 Quad core processors making it a 8 core processor.
Intel’s Core i7 Extreme Edition 980X and AMD’’s Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition are the most powerful Desktop CPU’s available right now.
Both are 6 core processors but AMD’s processor is lot cheaper compared to that of Intel.
Atom – THE Smallest processor
Intel launched a Dual core version of the its Atom processor for netbooks.
Each core being 1.5GHz, the processor has a decent impact.
Downside of Multi-Cores
All the programs might not run efficiently in a multi-core system. Sometimes it even might result in lose of performance.
Parallelizing the programs is not a simple task.
Speed of the system depends on what the user is doing with it.
Multi-core processors are very expensive.
A multi-core processor has been the trend from past 5-6 years and will continue to be for next few years too.
But just increasing the no of cores with not proper support from other hardware and software side will not work.
Intel Atom processor has tremendous potential.