AMD warms up developers for the multi-core age


Next-generation compilers optimised for parallel processing.

AMD has released a set of tools and support that allow developers to create applications optimised for performance on multi-core servers.

The chip maker has collaborated with the GNU Compiler Collection, The Portland Group, Microsoft and Sun Microsystems to craft x86 software compilers designed with multi-core processors in mind.

AMD is scheduled to start shipping its quad-core Opteron, codenamed Barcelona, next month. The company has previously said that the chip will out-perform Intel's current top-line processor by 40 per cent.

The advent of quad-core processors puts new strains on software developers as they have to direct the order in which tasks are processed and on which processor core.

Two tasks accessing the same core at the same time can cause a 'traffic jam' that can crash the application.

Several high-profile software issues have been blamed on this data gridlock, including a blackout in the power grid in the north east of the US in 2003 and a crash of the Mars Rover.

The new compilers will not prevent such crashes in highly complicated systems but go after the "low hanging fruit", according to Margaret Lewis, director of commercial solutions at AMD.

They will detect when an application performs a 'vectorisation' task that can easily be performed in parallel, for instance.

"With some kinds of software you get better results," Lewis told "This used to be the area of high-performance computing, now they are entering more into the mainstream compilers."

But optimising for multi-core and highly threaded applications is not just up to the software developers, Lewis added. Operating system vendors also have to optimise software to better meet changing demands from data centres.

Virtualisation allows for multiple applications such as application servers, web servers and databases on a single hardware box. Operating systems have to adjust to such scenarios, Lewis predicted.

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AMD warms up developers for the multi-core age
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