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multicoreA computer chip that contains two or more CPU processing units. Instead of continuing to squeeze more speed out of a single processor, it became obvious years ago that creating chips with multiple processing cores was the more practical approach. All major operating systems were updated to support this "symmetric multiprocessing" (SMP) capability, which enables, for example, the OS to run in one core, while each application runs in another. Antivirus running in the background can occupy its own core, and multicore architecture is ideal for virtualized servers (see virtual machine). Applications requiring extensive computations on separate sets of data, such as video encoding and 3D rendering, can also take advantage of multicore processing.
From Two to Dozens of Cores
Starting in 2005, dual-core and quad-core chips began to emerge for the x86 platform, and in subsequent years, multicore PC and Mac laptop and desktop computers became commonplace. In 2014, IBM's POWER8 CPU was introduced with up to 12 cores, and Intel introduced an 18-core Xeon chip. Other companies have developed CPUs for multimedia and scientific processing with dozens of cores. See SMP, dual core, triple core, quad core, octa-core, multithreading, multiprocessing and Cell chip.
|Eight-Core POWER Chip|
|In 2010, IBM debuted its POWER7 generation with up to eight cores. Providing four threads per core, a 32-chip POWER7 computer can process 1,024 simultaneous instruction streams. (Image courtesy of IBM.)|
|EZchip's Gx8072 system-on-chip (SoC) has 24 lanes of PCI Express and up to 100 Gbps of Ethernet I/O. (Image courtesy of EZchip Semiconductor Corporation, www.tilera.com)|