Some of the latest games like Crysis manage to put the latest high-end hardware to shame when you run at high resolutions with max quality but in the regular software world that's not the case. CNET reports that while the performance of computer hardware is still climbing, software makers are having trouble keeping up.
The challenges have not dented the enthusiasm for the potential of the new parallel chips at Microsoft, where executives are betting that the arrival of manycore chips--processors with more than eight cores, possible as soon as 2010--will transform the world of personal computing.
The company is mounting a major effort to improve the parallel computing capabilities in its software.
"Microsoft is doing the right thing in trying to develop parallel software," said Andrew Singer, a veteran software designer who is the co-founder of Rapport, a parallel computing company based in Redwood City, Calif. "They could be roadkill if somebody else figures out how to do this first."
Grove's software spiral started to break down two years ago. Intel's microprocessors were generating so much heat that they were melting, forcing Intel to change direction and try to add computing power by placing multiple smaller processors on a single chip.
Much like adding lanes on a freeway, the new strategy, now being widely adopted by the entire semiconductor industry, works only to the degree that more cars (or computing instructions) can be packed into each lane (or processor).
The stakes are high. The growth of the computer and consumer electronics industries is driven by a steady stream of advances in both hardware and software, creating new ways to handle audio, video, advanced graphics and the processing of huge amounts of data.