Software Controls Cache Memory to Speed CPUs

Letting the operating system control cache memory management saves power too

4 min read
Software Controls Cache Memory to Speed CPUs
Photo: AMD

Cache imageMulticore memory: More processor cores—this AMD Opteron has six—means the computer has a harder time managing how memory moves into and out of the processor’s cache.Image: AMD

A new process for managing the fast-access memory inside a CPU has led to as much as a twofold speedup and to energy-use reductions of up to 72 percent. According to its designers, realizing such stunning gains requires a big shift in what part of the computer controls this crucial memory: Right now that control is hard-wired into the CPU’s circuitry, but the substantial speedup came when the designers let the operating system handle things instead.

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The Transistor at 75

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

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

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.

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