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Commentary & Analysis

GeekSpeak: Dual Core Does More

By Pat Taylor,

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: January 23, 2006

By Pat Taylor, Proactive Technologies January 23, 2006 -- Remember last summer when Steve Jobs unveiled his cunning plan for world domination by partnering with Intel to overthrow the Redmond Empire? When I first addressed the introduction of the MacIntel platform in On Demand Journal, there was excited speculation about the strategic implications of Apple embracing Intel's architecture. The excitement continues into 2006. Dual core processing technology will change the way we work and play. On the first working day of the New Year, Intel formally announced its plans to become more than a silicon chip manufacturer; CEO Paul Otellini is championing a move to 'platformization'. In the largest reorganization in the company's history, business units have been created and aligned to better address the needs of five major markets for computer technology (mobile computing, digital home, digital office, digital health, and channel products). The sixth largest brand in the world will change its logo. The 'Intel Inside' identity will be replaced with the tag line 'Leap Ahead' and Pentium M [mobile] processors will fade into the past with the debut of "Core" technology. Single core processors will be known as "Core Solo" and the revolutionary new dual core processors will be "Core Duo". All of this ties in quite nicely with the introduction of Viiv (rhymes with 'five') – a home entertainment platform scheduled for a Q1 launch. Dual core processing technology will change the way we work and play. Simply put, a single CPU socket on the motherboard will support two distinct processor cores and present them both to the operating system as distinct physical processors. As a result, a dual processor Core Duo server will provide 'quad processor horsepower' while reducing noise, heat, and cost. This is part of the reason Apple made the decision to partner with Intel for their next-generation computing technology. (Recent announcements by Intel illustrate the synergy in the two companies' plans; the iPod icon must be smiling at the vision of Viiv). Intel's dual core provides the horsepower that Apple needs to create meaningful digital technology. Intel's dual core provides the horsepower that Apple needs to create meaningful digital technology. Apple is not the only technology company creating demand for computing horsepower. The third-party applications we use in our day-to-day business lives increases constantly. Most of us run multiple applications simultaneously (anti-virus, anti-spam, etc) without giving any thought to the power required to carry the ever-heavier load. De-fragmenting hard disk drives, re-indexing massive data volumes, and translating protocols are some of the jobs that increase the workload on the processors in our computers. Even gigabit Ethernet stresses the CPUs in our servers. Specific to the printing/publishing/prepress world, there are more relevant examples of the benefit of dual-core processing. One example has to do with enabling communication between OS X workstations and Windows servers that we use to run prepress workflow applications. Group Logic has a product called ExtremeZ IP that solves the communication problem between the operating systems as well as providing additional functionality (such as support for long file names). It is a wonderful product, but do not expect amazing performance improvements if you run the application on a five-year old computer using a single Pentium III processor with half a gig of RAM. A second (and more dramatic) example of the benefit of dual-core processing is seen when RIPing files for proofing or plating. In platform benchmarking of RIP applications, we've tested servers with a single dual-core processor against our traditional dual processor [single core] servers. The results were predictable; the single dual-core processor provided the same [approximate] performance as the more expensive dual processor platforms. With dual-core technology, a printer can realize the same performance as with a dual processor machine and save hundreds of dollars making the purchase. Sooner or later, we must upgrade our computer hardware to realize the promise of emerging software technologies. With dual-core technology, a printer can realize the same performance as with a dual processor machine and save hundreds of dollars making the purchase. Before you run off to place your order, let's make sure we're straight on what you're buying. Dual core technology does not deliver twice the performance of a single core system. In multi-processor computing, one plus one does not equal two; there is always overhead in the dance. Still, it's much faster than its predecessors and the price performance of a Core Duo platform is superior to 2005 technology. You will spend less on a new dual-processor server than you will pay an average employee for three month's wages. And a computer works 24 hours a day, needs no time off, and rarely suffers from job dissatisfaction. While a new dual core server may not take the place of a human being, it can make "more jobs faster", and that is the bottom line in the manufacturing business, isn't it?

 

 

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