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  • Processors

    I don't get it. Why aren't we seeing processors getting any faster? I feel like we've seen them stuck between the 2 to 3 ghz range for the past 5 years. Instead AMD and Intel are going with multiple cores, which really doesn't make a lot of sense outside of server/business applications. What is keeping processors from exceeding the 3 ghz roof?
    USAR

  • #2
    Re: Processors

    1. Requires a lot of money and power to fuel something like that.

    2. Have you ever tried to over clock, when you increase the speed, more energy and heat is produced.
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    • #3
      Re: Processors

      They're also getting more efficient. A Core 2 Duo @ 3Ghz is going to be much better than a P4 @ 3Ghz. Wouldn't you say that's faster? Speed isn't always measured in terms of clock speed. There's also the amount of data processed in a time period to consider as well.

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      • #4
        Re: Processors

        It comes down to physics. A transistor has to toggle and that moves charge in or out of a storage element (flip-flop, capacitor). That means current, inductance, capacitance all come into play. Current implies power, ie. heat.

        Reducing current, inductance, and capacitance requires a reduction in feature size (ie. size of circuit traces in the chip, size of transistors). That means imaging systems to print the circuit have to be more accurate. As size goes down and feature quantity goes up, flaws become more prevalent, increasing cost. Flaws must be detected, so metrology equipment to find them must advance.

        To find the flaws, you have to move around a huge wafer fast and stop quickly without oscillating like a tub of jello, then take a measurement. This is my job. I work for a company that makes the wafer handling stages that must make these fast, precise, stable moves.

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        • #5
          Re: Processors

          The new Intel processors that are on the 45nm die can be overclocked realitively easy and use a lot less power and generate less heat. Basic air cooled systems using the QX9650 are hitting 4Ghz at 30*C idle, 50*C under load and some people are even water cooling the QX9650 and hitting almost 5Ghz and still in the 60*C range.
          So, what I see is Intel is trying to keep the power consumption down and still have a pretty fast processor, if people want to push them more than can with little fear of using a lot of power or generating a lot of heat.
          Wouldn't surprise me to see people overclocking the QX9650 into the 6Ghz range with some MAJOR cooling though.
          I also heard a rumor that Intel is already working on a 32nm die processor which would mean even less power and less heat than the 45nm processors.

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          • #6
            Re: Processors

            Squek, if you look at some of the older Presler Pentium Ds, you'll notice that some of them are clocked at 3.4 Ghz, 3.6 Ghz, etc.

            I remember reading something a while back before dual-core's hit mainstream about how the then 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 was reaching the limits of the then-current technology and that we'd have to move towards nano-technology to gain faster speeds.
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            • #7
              Re: Processors

              Don't forget that before the Core 2 Intel chips, you could buy an AMD in the 1.8 to 2.4 range that killed the 3.0+ that Intel had at the time.
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              • #8
                Re: Processors

                Originally posted by Acreo Aeneas View Post
                Squeak, if you look at some of the older Presler Pentium Ds, you'll notice that some of them are clocked at 3.4 Ghz, 3.6 Ghz, etc.

                I remember reading something a while back before dual-core's hit mainstream about how the then 3.2 GHz Pentium 4 was reaching the limits of the then-current technology and that we'd have to move towards nano-technology to gain faster speeds.
                Makes sense, but I still don't understand why the industry hasn't broken any more barriers yet (And I'm not talking enthusiast overclocking). I wonder what the limitations are that requires nanotech to overcome.
                USAR

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                • #9
                  Re: Processors

                  Well, I think reworking the infrastructure of the core has helped (ex. Core 2 Duo chips).

                  The biggest concern with breaking new ground for processors is the energy wasted in the heat generated from a chip running. If we could somehow produce a chip small enough that runs really fast with minimal heat, then we'd have ourselves a quantum leap. :)

                  Originally posted by Bamboo
                  Don't forget that before the Core 2 Intel chips, you could buy an AMD in the 1.8 to 2.4 range that killed the 3.0+ that Intel had at the time.
                  Numbers aren't everything. Quality is better.
                  Right. If I remember correctly that was due to the shorter pipelines in the AMD chips compared to the long ones used in the then Pentium 4 chips (but I still ended up building a P4 instead of using AMD). P4 with HT was supposed to be a counter to AMD's "faster" chips and it really helped me in my uses. Heat was again a big downside for Intel and a big selling point for AMD.
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                  • #10
                    Re: Processors

                    Originally posted by squeak View Post
                    Makes sense, but I still don't understand why the industry hasn't broken any more barriers yet (And I'm not talking enthusiast overclocking). I wonder what the limitations are that requires nanotech to overcome.
                    Here's a fairly good explanation. Size does matter :)

                    «If the clock speed is increased to 100GHz, a cycle will be 0.01 nanoseconds, and signals will only propagate 3mm in this time. So, your CPU core will ideally need to be about 0.3mm in size. It is quite hard to cram a CPU core into such a small space. So, we're still in safe waters, but somewhere between now and 100GHz, we're going to hit this physical barrier. »



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                    • #11
                      Re: Processors

                      some Diamond transistors can clock at 60-80GHz, but at those clocks they're a couple hundred degrees celsius, and they're consuming enough power to run Australia.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Processors

                        I had read somewhere (not sure which magazine) that its becoming less important to push processors very far past 3GHz, and with dual and quad-core processors, programs are able to use more than one at a time providing a cheaper way break the 3GHz "barrier"

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                        • #13
                          Re: Processors

                          Originally posted by Dick Blonov View Post
                          Here's a fairly good explanation. Size does matter :)

                          «If the clock speed is increased to 100GHz, a cycle will be 0.01 nanoseconds, and signals will only propagate 3mm in this time. So, your CPU core will ideally need to be about 0.3mm in size. It is quite hard to cram a CPU core into such a small space. So, we're still in safe waters, but somewhere between now and 100GHz, we're going to hit this physical barrier. »



                          DB
                          Sweet.
                          USAR

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                          • #14
                            Re: Processors

                            The real performance increases are going to be seen when concurrent (parallel) programming becomes easier. Right now doing that is VERY hard. And doing it right is almost impossible with current tools. Intel and Microsoft (and other I am sure) are slowly releasing tools (compilers and language extensions) that are making it easier.

                            I think within 5 years we will see stuff that allows the developer to program as usual and the compiler or maybe even the runtime will just know when concurrent operations will benefit and just apply them. The developer will be able to mark parts of code that should be prioritized and it will run in it's own thread. Then you will see all the quad and, by then, octo cores really scream.
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                            • #15
                              Re: Processors

                              Another option is the parallel cpu boards (if you want overkill performance).



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