The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Breaking the Multicore Bottleneck

Simple hardware speeds core-to-core communication

3 min read
Photo: Intel
It’s Getting Crowded:  This Intel Haswell-EX Xeon E7 V3 processor has 18 cores trying to work together without messing up one another’s calculations. A bit of additional hardware could speed up communication among the cores.
Photo: Intel

Researchers at North Carolina State University and at Intel have come up with a solution to one of the modern microprocessor’s most persistent problems: communication among the processor’s many cores. Their answer is a dedicated set of logic circuits they call the Queue Management Device, or QMD. In simulations, integrating the QMD with the processor’s on-chip network at a minimum doubled core-to-core communication speed and, in some cases, boosted it much further. Even better, as the number of cores was increased, the speedup became more pronounced.

In the last decade, microprocessor designers started putting multiple copies of processor cores on a single die as a way to continue the rate of performance improvement computer makers had enjoyed without causing chip-killing hot spots to form on the CPU. But that solution comes with complications. For one, it means that software programs have to be written so that work is divided among processor cores. The result: Sometimes different cores need to work on the same data or must coordinate the passing of data from one core to another.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan
LightGreen

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

Keep Reading ↓Show less