Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Why Snow Leopard? It’s the cores.

John Markoff, who has special access to Jobs, says Snow Leopard is about new approaches to parallel programming and GPU use. The “breakthrough” is to be powered by newly acquired PA Semi’s Grand Central technology.

Somewhat coincidentally Coding Horror (Jeff Atwood) writes today (quoting Tim Bray):

… Tim has addressed both of those criticisms and rebooted with The Wide Finder 2 Project. It's bigger, badder, and brawnier, but the goal remains the same:

The problem is that lots of simple basic data-processing operations, in my case a simple Ruby script, run like crap on modern many-core processors. Since the whole world is heading in the slower/many-core direction, this is an unsatisfactory situation.

If you look at the results from last time, it’s obvious that there are solutions, but the ones we've seen so far impose an awful complexity cost on the programmer. The holy grail would be something that maximizes ratio of performance increase per core over programmer effort. My view: Anything that requires more than twice as much source code to take advantage of many-core is highly suspect.

Apple is attacking the enterprise market – with renewed confidence. A major improvement in the ability to leverage multi-core CPUs and GPU would justify that confidence.

I wonder how completely this has been factored into Apple’s share price.

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