March 5, 2007

CPU Evolution

Hardware.info has a nice article outlining the evolution of computing hardware from the CPU/motherboard/bus model to the Co-processor/Streaming model. Its probably long overdue, and will require a substantial re-working of software to fully leverage, but it only makes sense: massively parallel tasks are ideal for computation, but we've been increasingly (and arguably, at long last) gated by the linear HW/SW programming model.

This isn't just the next pin configuration standard, or motherboard communication protocol (ala PCI 2.0 Express)- its a paradigm shift, though in practice the results will be phased and somewhat gradual; there's significant infrastructure in place that'll all have to change to broadly see the benefits.

That said, there are two other "industry" factors I think the article ignores...

First, the increasing proliferation of general purpose computing interface and access points (phones, settop boxes, consoles, PDAs, iPods, PDAs and the like), i.e. NOT the desktop - and secondly, the concurrent and related emergence of the web software model; the network's going to become (is?) the bottleneck for most in the real world, and the PC will be only one of many entrypoints.

Additionally, although AMD (and therefore ATI, whom they recently acquired) and Intel have a shared vision of the "new PC", I'd imagine NVidia imagines it shaping differently...

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