Multicore chips could bring about the biggest change in computing since the microprocessor
It’s always wise to be a little skeptical of such superlative claims. In Redmond, Washington, last week, I asked a foreman at a construction site what his big hole in the ground was going to be. He told me that a local software company was building the world’s largest underground parking garage. I have no particular reason to doubt that statement, but I would have been more firmly convinced if he had been able to answer my followup question about where I could find the second-largest underground parking garage.
The assertion in my subtitle doesn’t stand up particularly well to this kind of scrutiny. I really don’t want to be asked about the second-biggest change in computing in the past 30 years. But I hope my readers will forgive or overlook my moment of impetuous hyperbole and accept the broader point that the shift to dual-core and quad-core (and eventually many-core) processors really is going to make a difference in how computers work. We’ve seen decades of research on parallel processing and concurrency, but through it all the mainstream of computing has remained steadfastly single-minded. It looks like that’s finally going to change.