A Quad-Core by Any Other Name?

Arthur Cole

Words often mean different things to different people. Dutiful husbands from time immemorial have heard their wives say, "We need to clean the basement this weekend." Eventually, we realize that the more precise definition of the word "we" is, in fact, "you."

 

The same effect can be seen in the modern enterprise, with the only difference being that many of the terms bandied about these days are so new that definitions have barely had time to become established. SOA, Web 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0 are all examples. I think we should cut them some slack, though, because these were relatively ambiguous terms to begin with.

 

But I have a problem with the new "quad-core" chips coming out this fall. As I understand it, a single-core chip is just that; one processing core per chip. The dual-core carried this to the next logical step; two cores per chip. But now we have new quad-cores from Intel, which, logic dictates, should have four cores on a single piece of silicon. Not so fast, says Intel. In reality, they are two dual-cores tied together with circuitry so they can be installed on a single socket.

 

Now, whether this offers any advantages to four actual cores per chip or falls short performance-wise of a true quad design is difficult to say. We'll have to wait until the benchmark tests come out. But it's disengenuous at best to call them quad-cores, isn't it? Dual dual-cores is a bit clunky, but how about quad modules or something?

 

AMD, to its credit, is set to deliver what appears to be a true quad core early next year.


 

I realize this is all a big game of semantics, but since language is at the core of how we relate to one another, it certainly would be a lot easier if we could call a quad a quad.

 

There are undoubtedly numerous examples of manufacturers, developers and anyone else with something to sell playing fast and loose with their terminology, so I invite everyone reading this to submit their own samples. But right now, I have to go: I have a basement to clean out.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 31, 2006 7:47 AM Saxdude Saxdude  says:
Hmm... True Quad or not true Quad. Do I care? I think not. At the end of the day I can put twice as many cores to use in the same form factor. Seems to me that is all I care about. If what you say is true, Intel will beat AMD to market with product. What do I really care about? Performance & TCO. Looks like Intel has a good jump on AMD. Reply

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