Intel to developers: Code for as many cores as you can

— 4:38 PM on July 2, 2008

If programmers want to write software for tomorrow's processors, they should start fashioning algorithms that can tap into chips with "tens, hundreds, and thousands of cores." That's the gist of a blog post by Intel microprocessor engineer Anwar Ghuloum titled, "Unwelcome Advice."

In the post, Ghuloum talks a little bit about how Intel is selling the concept of many-core chips to developers and what those developers will need to do. He says because of discussions from a couple of years ago, coders sometimes do the bare minimum to write software that can use two or four cores. However, he adds Intel has begun talking about scaling to core counts the company hasn't started to ship yet. Over time, Ghuloum notes, "I find that developers migrate their thinking from the first kind of discussion to the second."

As one would expect, writing code for many-core CPUs takes a little more effort than updating software to take advantage of a couple of extra cores. Ghuloum explains that developers need to go back to the drawing board and perhaps change programming languages, libraries, and ways of thinking. He calls the need for those changes an "opportunity," but developers who've spent years or decades working with single-core CPUs may see things differently.

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