Game developers slowly adapt to multi-core

Posted on Sunday, Apr 15 2007 @ 15:27 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
Dual and even quad-core desktop processors are already with us for a while, but few applications actually take advantage of the extra cores. CNET published an article about this:
Major games take years to develop, meaning that most of the games released around the time that dual-core chips hit the market in 2005 were not built with two lanes in mind. The good news is that developers have found a way around this so far with patches, which alert the game that it has two cores to work with.

director, Intel's game platform office The bad news is that releasing patches is only a stopgap solution until game studios sell games designed with multiple software threads in mind. More and more studios seem to be getting the message, with dozens of major titles in the works for multicore processors. But this is hard work--the abandonment of decades of programming expertise for a new way of exploiting processor power.

"I'd say we're at a 'C-plus' right now," said Randy Stude, director of Intel's game platform office, assigning a grade for the industry's progress toward parallel development. "When the first dual-core chips came out (in 2005), we were at a D-minus."

Intel and AMD have spent significant time and energy urging developers to take advantage of the "low-hanging fruit"--easy ways to make their games more aware of parallel computing. AMD even sponsored a coding competition last year to help drive those points home.

As a result, over the past year, major game studios such as Blizzard Entertainment (World of Warcraft) and Id Software (Quake and Doom) have released patches to make their games multicore-friendly, although WoW players using Microsoft's Windows are still waiting for their patch.

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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