With the multicore era undeniably upon us, more talk is turning to the future implications of multicore processors. Of course, software development remains a big challenge, even provoking a recent article in The New York Times, of all places. (See NYT 12/17/07,Leaving Programmers In Their Dust,” by John Markoff.) But the discussion is equally spirited on the hardware side.
One debate is about symmetric versus asymmetric multiprocessing. Should all the cores on a multicore chip be identical, or should some be specialized for different tasks? Another debate questions the value of core-level multithreading. How many threads make sense? In many ways, these debates echo the classic RISC versus CISC arguments of the 1990s—simplicity versus complexity, efficiency versus expediency.