EETimes: Multicore systems-on-chip will force designers to "rethink computer architectures in a most fundamental way," said Anant Agarwal, professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a keynote speaker at the Multicore Expo here Tuesday (March 27). Agarwal discussed how multicore technology will impact the way designers size resources and connect cores, and proposed a new multicore programming approach.
"Multicore has really crashed the computing party," Agarwal said. While today's multicore systems may have 2 to 16 cores, he said, cores will range into the hundreds within the next two to three years and reach 1,000 early in the next decade. There are three critical questions, he said — how we size resources, how we connect cores, and how programming must evolve if multicore is to succeed.
In the past, Agarwal noted, a designer given more area would simply increase the sizes of caches or pipelines. But now there's another option, which is adding another processor. In many cases, he said, adding another processor and keeping cache sizes small will produce more performance benefits than keeping the same number of processors and enlarging caches.