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Article:
  Apple's High-Water Mark?
Subject:   Cell Processors
Date:   2006-03-24 17:58:21
From:   AdrienLamothe
Response to: Cell Processors

Initial reports of Cell demos have been very favorable, but only time will tell. Early demos do tend to be tightly controlled affairs.


I don't expect the different programming model to be a show-stopper.


Excellent point about the compiler optimizations and chipsets. A company with the scope, size and organizational capacity of IBM should be able to overcome those types of problems.


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  • Cell Processors
    2006-03-25 05:50:24  malibu [View]

    A show stopper no but a significant obsticle yes.

    A brief description of the coding issues can be found here

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060225-6265.html

    I would not be so sure about IBM overcoming this issue quickly and confidently. They had same said resources and look where the G5 ended.
    • Cell Processors
      2006-03-25 09:39:49  pquam [View]

      I agree that this won't be solved overnight to
      anyone's long-term satisfaction. Concurrency
      is a hot topic in CS, and has been since the 80's
      or before. So, in a sense, it has been the
      subject of a generation's doctoral theses, and still, I would argue, it's not mature, and few
      people would disagree. There have also been
      some commerical failures, as in the 5th generation
      computer project--which was not a failure in
      terms of teaching us about what not to do.

      I don't think this negates the usefulness of the cell processor though. In the worst case, ignoring the SPEs, you have a simple risc-based dual-threaded processor clocked up to about 4ghz, that's compatible with all the powerpc code. That means that there is a huge code-base that will work already with it. This may or may not be enough to make this a competative product.

      There will, of-course, be sub-optimal usage of
      the SPE's for the forseeable future with most
      applications. This is not necessarily a bad
      thing. What dedicated graphics has taught us
      is that you can take certain processor intensive
      tasks, and off-load them relatively cheaply
      to dedicated chips. Even selective usage
      of the SPE's could make a huge performance
      difference on certain processor-intensive tasks.

      What I see as the key feature of the cell
      processor for 2006 is not its parallel
      execution, but its I/O bandwidth. It's an
      incremental, but very significant advance on the
      real bottle-neck in modern processors: bandwidth.

      Bandwidth should be reason enough to make Cell
      successful until the tools for painless and
      automatic compiling can be developed.