Apple's High-Water Mark?
Subject:   Cell Processors
Date:   2006-03-25 05:50:24
From:   malibu
Response to: Cell Processors

A show stopper no but a significant obsticle yes.

A brief description of the coding issues can be found here

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.

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  • 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.