Software Can’t Keep Up with Chip Speed

An Explosion of Parallelism

“You can go up and down the line and see the problems are all in software,” said Claunch. “We are going into an explosion of parallelism, and we had not grown at that rate in the past. The same piece of software might scale well up to 16 processors, but after that it’s too bottlenecked and it might be significant changes to make it scale.”

Microsoft has gone on record as stating that Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, as well as the next version of SQL Server, currently under development under the codename “Kilimanjaro,” will support up to 256 cores. Thus far, Microsoft is the only software developer to commit to such scalability.

Claunch applauded that effort, as well as those efforts by VMware and Linux developers to support massively scalable systems, but said the software companies simply can’t keep up with Intel and AMD’s rate of innovation.

“They need to put significantly more resources into showing the software is going forward,” he said. “One of the major computer science research projects now is asking if we need entirely new ways of writing programs now. That’s why you see big amounts of money by Microsoft being invested to research this at a theoretical level.

“We’re at the point of exploring the size of the problem and we don’t have a glimmer that says here’s the solution. We’re still seeking a solution.”