According to Fujitsu Siemens Computers the days of simply upgrading to faster processors in order to squeeze extra performance out of legacy applications are rapidly coming to an end. In a press release distributed today the company warns that the increasing use of multi-core processors, and the simple replacement of single core processors in general, is just simply not enough when it comes to delivering the expected benefit concerning improved efficiency running companies' key business applications.
There is no doubting that many IT departments are, indeed, shifting focus from older single-core processors to the new multi-core hardware. FSC, however, reckons that whilst this transition to multi-core processors would not be problematical if the software world was also moving with enough speed to be able to embrace parallel architectures. The truth of the matter, out here in the real world, is that this is often not the case. As a consequence, as far as many monolithic applications are concerned the new machines manage to run them slower than the previous hardware, something that is particularly noticeable if this is all the computer is doing.
If you apply Moore's Law to processors then you might imagine that the number of cores will double within an 18 month time-frame. So running with this for a moment, within a couple of years we should have eight or 16 core servers becoming commonplace along with quad core desktops and notebooks. But where is the development will to re-write applications to exploit such power?
Dave Pritchard, senior technology strategist at Fujitsu Siemens Computers, comments: "The accepted solution for speeding up sluggish application response times used to be to procure new hardware. However, this is no longer the case, and indeed new multi-core processors that are not being used properly in conjunction with parallelised software, might actually result in slower, not faster, applications. IT directors need to look closely at their application stacks to see how they can parallelise their monolithic applications. Multi-core processors are perfect for consolidating workloads onto a smaller number of systems. However it may not be the solution if you are installing new hardware with the specific objective of improving response times of a specific monolithic application. In many cases the only solution will be to re-architect the application to enable it to take advantage of the other cores within the new processors but this is not a trivial task and skills to do this are in short supply"