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Two paths to multicore: Intel and MS talk about their tech at IDF

Multicore.info points to an article at EE Times Asia with a partial overview of the approaches to multicore as highlighted by Intel and Microsoft at the recent IDF

Microsoft stressed its vision for placing new layers to its system software stack and point extensions to its .Net environment. Meanwhile, Intel said it plans to have extensions to its x86 instruction set and has shown progress on Ct, extensions to the C++ language with an objective of supporting greater parallelism.

Of course, Microsoft is focusing on the plumbing to make parallelism easier to get at and easier to get at advantageously

The underlying software plumbing needs an overhaul before such work can begin. [David Callahan, who leads Microsoft's parallel computing initiative] noted the next system’s software will be much more layered into separate elements including new runtime environments that sit in a user space below application libraries and above hypervisors and the core OS kernel.

The runtime environments will act as schedulers, working cooperatively with hypervisors that map virtual to physical resources and OSes that manage access to physical hardware. “This represents a refactoring of traditional OS services,” he added.

Intel’s focus is generally at a higher level (applications versus the OS), and at IDF evidently they emphasized their language work

On the language front, Intel talked about Ct, an extension of C++ for multicore processors. The language seeks to automate the job of splitting processing tasks across many cores without the programmer knowing the details of x86 architecture.

The language delivers 1.7 to 3.7 times performance speed on code running on four processor systems, according to data shown by Anwar Ghuloum, principal engineer, corporate technology group, Intel. Ct was initially geared toward Intel’s general purposed Nehalem quad core chips, but is now up and running on its prototype 16-core Larrabee graphics processors.

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