A major evolution into the computing technology is the emerging multi-core processors. This technology is coming at a time when businesses and consumers will required the benefits of these processors due to the exponential increase of digital data and globalization of internet. An initial step into the multi-core technology is the dual core processors being developed by the two processor giants, AMD and INTEL. It should be noted that dual core processors are different from dual processors.
Dual core is a single chip with dual execution core inside it while dual processors are boards that allow two different physical chip processors to share multiple tasks. Dual core combines two processors including their cache into a single processor (see Figure 1). Multi-core processors will eventually become the pervasive computing model because they offer performance and productivity benefits beyond the capabilities of today’s single-core processors (Beal, 2005). Figure 1. Diagram of Intel Core 2 (Wikipedia, 2006)
Over the next 5-10 years we expect the major processor manufacturers to migrate into multi-core processors. Intel and AMD have plans to move almost all of their processors to dual-core over the next several years (Augustus, 2006). The demand for the performance requirement of dual-core processors can be inferred from the present use of dual processors in server system. This apparent demand will push the processor industry to develop dual or even multi-core in the coming years.
Even in the area’s of low end processors for automotive and consumer electronics, there is an apparent trend into the emerging of dual-core microprocessors. The reason for the migration into the dual-core technology is because of the slowing down of increase in clock frequencies. Both Intel and AMD have been slowing down the rate for increasing the clock speeds of processor. Part of this is due to the limitations of the current technology and designs (Kyrnin, 2006).
Dual-core processors will be advantageous for the consumers because it is much cheaper compared to two processors in dual processor boards. It is also advantageous for manufactures because they can optimize the performance of the two processors through manufacturing strategies. A cache located in a single die can attain higher frequency of operation than two separate caches due to the distance that the signal has to travel off-chip. Due to the optimization in size within a single die, the dual-core processor will require less printed circuit board (PCB) area than two processors.
Furthermore, the optimization in size would result in less operating power required than two separate processors which provide more losses due to the distance traveled by the signal off-chip. The disadvantage of this architecture is the consequence of a smaller die which means smaller surface area for heat to dissipate. This would mean that the power dissipation will be much more difficult to handle. Another disadvantage is the need for software developers to modify the current programs in such as way that they could optimize the processing powers of the dual-core processor.
The dual-core will be just the start, there is a big possibility that it will move from dual, to quad, up to the point where the addition of a core would be impractical. Let us focus on the effects of this new technology in the computing market. This would mean that a new generation of personal computers will be on market, and in fact it is already starting to be in market. Looking at the exponential growth for storage in the digital photography, video and music, there is no doubt that there is a growing demand for such speed and processing power that only dual processors can handle.
Although not much of this speed can be felt by the consumer until all the software has been designed to utilize the dual-core architecture of the processor. This would probably take some time for the software to be able to catch up completely with the processing power of dual-core technology, but the initial added benefits, not to mention the appealing name that it bring, will already begin to attract a considerable amount of users. Luckily, most of the present operating system already supports dual-core processors, but the application software running into it are still designed for single processor PCs.
Most of the applications that the average user runs currently do not have this (Kyrnin, 2006). The globalization of internet also further boosts the demand for dual-core processor driven PCs. More and more PC users run their systems 24 hours a day to permit functions such as downloading files, running backups, scanning for viruses and operating Web servers. The energy efficiency requirement for 24 hour operation makes the dual-core technology the perfect system for this long term operations.