Next-generation computer chip to hold 2 engines Not as fast, but a multitask workhorse
By MATTHEW FORDAHL THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Monday, December 27, 2004 SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- For decades, computer performance has been driven largely by the increasing numbers of ever-smaller transistors squeezed into the machines' silicon brains. With each generation, speeds jumped and prices dropped. Though the tiny switches built in silicon are the heart of the digital revolution, they can't shrink forever. And in recent years, chip companies have struggled to keep a lid on power and heat -- the result of some transistor components getting as thin as a few atoms across. Now, the world's leading semiconductor companies have unveiled a remarkably similar strategy for working around the problem: In 2005, microprocessors sold for personal computers will sprout what amounts to two heads each. Instead of building processors with a single core to handle calculations, designers will place two or more computing engines on a single chip. They won't run as fast as single-engine models, but they won't require as much power, either, and will be able to handle more work at once. "There are challenges certainly in this change," said Bernard Meyerson, chief technologist at IBM's Systems and Technology Group. "You're looking at a seminal shift of the industry." Intel says it will start shipping dual-core chips for desktops, laptops and high-end servers in the second half of the year. AMD will start with a dual-core server chip before releasing ones for desktops and laptops, also in 2005. Multicore technology is hardly new -- it's already being used in server and networking chips. The concept of using multiple, stand alone microprocessors in a computer isn't new either -- Apple Computer Inc. and other vendors have sold dual- and multiprocessor machines for years.
The only easy day was yesterday.
...some do, some don't; some will, some won't (WR)