O’Reilly on Multi-core

Tim O’Reilly posted pieces of a conversation about the wall that we have almost hit with processor speed. I just wanted to add that not only do most applications not take advantage of multi-core processors, the complexity of writing multi-threaded applications will mean that most applications will never see the advantages of multi-core processors. What is need are tools that enable the underlying operations to be parallelized without the programmer having to immerse himself in those details. There are already examples of this, web applications for instance. A webserver handles this problem beautifully. The programmer creates the site and it easily services multiple users and many can scale to the millions of users. Of course you get into other problems but that is not the point. Finally I want to point out that many problems will never be able to take advantage of multi-core processors since they are not operations that are easily broken into multiple paths of execution.

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  1. Oh, no…I just bought a refurb on the Dell outlet site with two quad processors, 8Gig of RAM, three 300 GB SAS drives, etc. Hope it works with the software I need to use! Oh, well, it was a bargain…

  2. In fact PACS applications have very little use for multi-core processors. Some 3D applications can use two processors but for the most part adding cores will not help most PACS applications perform significantly better.

  3. OsiriX is a fully multi-threaded DICOM Viewer, and… it’s free !

  4. Multithreaded in what sense? GE can claim to have a fully multithreaded PACS despite the fact that adding processors will not significantly increase performance. If OsiriX is able to take advantage of multiple cores than a 4 core machine should run at some multiple better than with 1 core or 2 cores. I have seen very little desktop software that is able to claim to increase significantly in performance simply by adding cores.

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