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Intel Gulftown: The Magnificent i7 Print E-mail
Written by Michael Schuette   
Mar 12, 2010 at 01:38 AM

Thinking in binary has been adopted as a new extension of our previous lifestyles - at least sort of. That is why we are called the digital generation and consequently, a few things are changing. The metric that all of us have grown up with (and still do) is built upon the decimal system, and almost anyone will be able to answer how much is 10 x 10 .. In geek language, the dreaded 8 x 8 or even 16 X 16 equations have become so integrated into the daily routines of memory and hard disk allocations that 256 or even 4096 are by now just parts of the daily dosage of numbers, else we just use the ubiquitous placeholders like 4k or whatever dimension we are entertaining at a given moment.

As convenient as these conventions have become, the side effect is merely a variation of the beaten path of numerals with the added aggravation that, based on millions of years of evolution, it is still easy to calculate 10 x 6, whereas even the most die-hard geeks will typically cave when pressed for a spontaneous answer to a 6 x 16 question, not to mention 12 x 32. Ironically, despite the fact that computers are – pardon my language – overgrown calculators in the first instance, this particular type of simple calculation appears extremely difficult. In other words, most software manufacturers are capable of managing the most complex algorithms with either raw code or else through hardware-encoded instruction sets but, when it comes to a simple adjustment of numbers to account for an extra “1” after the first valid bit, for example, going from 1000 to 110 (in binary code), they are as helpless as a turtle on its back.

In the last 2 years, this “power of 2” issue has only affected AMD with their triple core CPUs that had to run on a single core in more than just a splinter group of applications. The consequences for performance were rather devastating. Aside from some legacy software, the main offender was probably Nero AG with their Recode application which, interestingly enough, is positioned in the landscape of prime applications with frequent updates (with the respective cash expenditure). In other words, we are not even looking at yesteryears predominant softwarez like DVD Shrink-32 or other goodies that were axed by Microsoft’s self-appointed DRM-enforcement demigods.

It is always easy to close your eyes and ignore the world as long as the world is a significant but relatively small group of budget CPUs that furthermore are labeled as faulty fall-outs. However carefully manicured the arguments are though, they will not hold if all of a sudden the world’s fastest CPU falls into the same trap and is castrated by corporate ignorance. We could call this “Nero, we have a problem” but of course, other companies are in the same boat.

The boat in this case is called Gulftown and it is without doubt the most powerful integration of silicon on a single chip, featuring 6 physical cores capable of simultaneously processing two threads each for a total of 12 threads running concurrently. Granted, the Windows environment is not the best for multithreading, even the release of Windows7 does not change this, in comparison to “Hackintosh” Snow Leopard, the thread management is still in the dark ages but there is enough software that will scale very well, even with the Windows handicap.

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Last Updated ( Dec 31, 2010 at 03:39 AM )
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