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It won't be long before single-core processors will seem as antiquated as single-speed CD-ROM drives, and the case could be made that we're already there. Dual- and quad-core processors rule the landscape, and while Intel's upcoming Core i7 has enthusiasts frothing at the mouth, the chip maker may have something even more mouth watering in the very near future.
If the latest rumor turns out to be true, expect a replacement architecture for Nehalem in 2010 which will double the number of cores per die to eight. Codenamed Sandy Bridge, alleged leaked slides suggest the new architecture will also support hyperthreading, giving the eight-core chip a generous 16 threads to work with. Also look for 16MB of L3 cache to find its way onto the chip.
But for all the hardware goodness, it's the software that may end up playing the biggest role in performance improvements. Intel will reportedly introduce a new instruction set called Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX) that will eventually supersede SSE. AVX will double the size of instructions to 256 bits and will be capable of performing up to four calculations in a single instruction.
With over a year to go before the supposed new architecture makes a debut, will developers be ready by then to take advantage of the additional cores and new instruction set?
Image Credit: Intel