Intel, AMD multicore chip sales may be slowed by software

Virtualization fills gap while software industry struggles to catch up with Intel, AMD advances

Trying to boost the IT capabilities at his digital forensics company, Brian Dykstra invested in a quad-core processor-based server. After all, he figured, more cores means a more powerful machine that can do far more work than single-core systems.

However, after shelling out money for the new technology, Dykstra found that only one out of the four cores was working. Three-fourths of his hardware investment was sitting idle because the software he was running wasn't built to make use of multiple cores.

Dykstra isn't alone in his disappointment with the lack of software for multicore chips. As hardware firms increase the number of cores in single chips, most software simply isn't keeping pace, creating a huge drag on efforts to take advantage of the potentially significant hardware-based performance improvements.

Software running on multicore chips must be built to let different cores handle different tasks in an application at the same time, significantly boosting performance.

Dykstra noted that while some server software from major vendors like Microsoft and Oracle, has been partially multi-threaded, for the most part there is a dearth of such applications.

Once Dykstra, co-founder and a senior partner at Jones Dykstra & Associates, figured out his firm's most critical software, he compiled a list of vendors, picked up the phone and started haranguing them to add support for the chips. He didn't identify the vendors.

Nonetheless, some IT managers have been able to cut costs and hardware needs by using the multicore technology in virtualization projects.

For instance, when a company goes down the virtualization road with multicore systems, each core is assigned its own virtual machine, allowing each to run a separate application..

Virtualization on multicore chips is working out very well for Bruce McMillan, manager of emerging technologies at the US division of Solvay Pharmaceuticals, who has scaled his virtual machine total by 50 percent while cutting the number of physical servers in his data center almost in half.

McMillan said he had been running 100 virtual machines on eight servers running single-core processors. He added two dual-core servers about a year ago and he was able to scale from 100 to 150 virtual machines.

About a month ago, Solvay installed a quad-core server, which enabled it to retire three single-core servers. The company is now in the process of adding two more quad-core servers, which will replace all of the remaining single core systems, according to McMillan.

"It's saved me $500,000 [so far] just in hardware costs," he said. "I can have much higher consolidation ratios than I had before. This is about server consolidation."

McMillan said he's looking forward to getting more multi-threaded software but, for today, he's happy that the multicores are allowing him to do more work with less hardware.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AMDquad-coreintel

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Shopping.com

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?