Archive for the 'Mac Pro' Category

Skulltrail

February 9, 2008

Intel released its Skulltrail motherboard to the media for testing.  I’ve been following this on Tom’s Hardware (a most excellent British tech site).  TH found that 1) the test machine didn’t beat single core machines in performance and 2) the board Intel sent TH was rushed and shoddy.  TH didn’t understand why Intel would ship something like that when they have no competition right now.

I feel that Tom’s hardware missed something on the second point, to a degree.  Look at the new Mac Pro.  It is an 8 core machine with a dual quad core motherboard.  The quad cores are Intel, of course, but I have no idea who makes the mother board.  Skulltrail, as bad as Tom’s says it is, give PC enthusiasts something to turn to besides the Mac Pro.

We’re in a strange time in modern computing where hardware manufacturers are producing chips that are considerably ahead of anything that programmers can use.  Increasing speed by adding multiple cores doesn’t help programmers.  Increasing clock speed is great for programmers because they don’t have to do anything to take advantage of the increased speed.  Adding cores presents a real challenge. It’s too bad there isn’t a chip or a piece of software available that automatically allocates cores to processes.  Then programmers wouldn’t have to worry.  We need to make things as easy as possible for programmers.

Tom’s said Skulltrail is 2 years ahead of its time.  I disagree with that.  I think it just needs a few refinements to make it work.  The biggest bottleneck with Skulltrail as it stands is the memory.  Make the memory DDR3 and everything changes.  While that’s probably not brain dead easy, it’s certainly not impossible.  With a little refinement, I would buy a Skulltrail motherboard.

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