With the megahertz era effectively over and processor makers adding cores rather than cranking up clock speeds, game developers looking to exploit the capabilities of current hardware are faced with a daunting challenge—"one of the most important issues to be solving as a game developer right now," according to Valve software's Gabe Newell. Valve has invested significant resources into optimizing its Source engine for multi-core systems, and doing so has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for its game designers.
You won't have to wait for Half-Life 3 to enjoy the benefits of Valve's multi-core efforts, though. Multi-core optimizations for Source will be included in the next engine update, which is due to become available via Steam before Half-Life 2: Episode 2 is released. Read on to see how Valve has implemented multithreading in its Source engine and developer tools, and how they perform on the latest dual- and quad-core processors from AMD and Intel.