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A 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.)

Seventy-Two Cores
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,
References in periodicals archive ?
Such requirements will afford future devices the flexibility to provide longevity and handle constant updates, while making it a necessity to integrate a multicore MCU.
Multicore Traceability Fundamental to System Analysis and Debug
Available as a free-of-charge beta version for download from the XMOS website, the new tools give every engineer familiar with C programming access to the power and flexibility of multicore technology in developing their embedded systems.
In addition to its support for portability across multicore processor platforms, MTAPI's dynamic runtime support will allow the implementer to optimize for quality of service as well as power management that is based on real-time performance demands.
Renesas, as the leader of the automotive microcontroller (MCU) market, has introduced multicore products to answer this market demand.
Meeting the needs of industrial automation developers With its C66x multicore DSP portfolio, TI offers improved compute performance, large on-chip memory and multiple high speed interfaces that enable industrial automation developers to easily implement advanced features and achieve higher system integration.
The NAG Library for SMP and Multicore contains over 1600 routines, including over 100 new for this release.
A wide array of users worldwide converting their applications to multicore environments continue to look to NAG's technical experts for algorithms for multicore application development, because NAG algorithms have the reputation for being robust and reliable.
That is changing now that desktop computers and even laptops are multicore.
Multicore CPUs represent a fast growing market 38% growth from 2012 to 2013 according to the Linley Group 2014 Guide to Multicore Processors and are used in a wide variety of systems, particularly in network appliances, white boxes, server blades and NFV servers to perform load balancing, security, network monitoring, SDN & NFV, virtualization, application recognition and video processing for data center, cloud, enterprise and carrier networks.
Multicore and manycore system development often gets sidetracked because development tool vendors and runtime systems for these programs are challenged to support the virtually unlimited number of processor configurations.

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