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Are Special Purpose Chips an Answer to the Multicore Crisis?

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According to Moore's Law, processors double in speed every 18 months. However, the new multicore trend resulted in a gap between the potential increase of speed and the ability of software to adapt to the multicore world and to exploit parallelism opportunities. In the aftermath of Intel's announcement of their future six-core chip, Larry Dignan wonders "what exactly are we supposed to do with six cores when we have barely figured out what to do with four". 

Bearing this in mind, Bob Warfield suggests, in a recent blogpost, that rather than creating faster general purpose CPU, one could focus on designing new chip types that would have narrow specificity. This could have an important impact on the market structure, since the competitive advantage would not anymore lay within giants like Intel capable to create ever faster chips.  He mentions "special purpose chips built […] for maximum performance in various areas", e.g. graphics coprocessors or various network chips, and questions the interest that might bear the creation of special purpose chips optimized for running specific virtual machines.

He emphasizes that today "interpreted and scripting languages that are descendants of languages like Lisp and Smalltalk", e.g. Ruby on Rails, Python, and PHP are rather mainstream. And he recalls the observation of Alan Key that comparatively to old machines, like Dorado, "modern machines don't run dynamic languages like Lisp and Smalltalk as much faster […] as their newfound clockspeeds would imply they should." Hence, Bob Warfield wonders whether creating special chips could allow these new mainstream languages, but also Java, to get faster:

Would a chip optimized to run the virtual machines of one of these languages without regard to compatibility with the old x86 world be able to run them a lot faster?  Would a chip that runs Java 10x faster than the fastest available cores from Intel be valuable at a time when Java has stopped getting faster via Moore's Law?

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