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Thread: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

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    Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Why is there not a move towards asymmetric multi core/processor machines? let me explain what I mean. I have a machine that has a huge processor, which is sometimes terribly underutilized, and though the new intel chips can clock down cores and save power that way nothing compares to turning the cores off. So I'm wondering why there's no intel atom/intel core i7 board where the atom chip is powered up all the time, and the i7 chip is powered up as needed. I'm imagining that this would save on the order of 40-50 watts, which for a 24-7 machine could mean some pretty serious power savings and cost savings given that the secondary chip is super cheap to start with. One could also imagine this all happening on one chip where one core is anemic relative the others.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Everyone has an asymmetric multiprocessing machine. In higher-end gaming rigs, the power is grossly biased toward the graphics hardware (with an opposite bias on low-end hardware,) but both the GPU and CPU are capable of general-purpose computation.

    Or, you can look no further than your iPhone/iPod touch (if you own one.) Unless I'm wrong, there is an ARM11 main CPU which does most of the work, and an auxiliary ARM7 CPU with a lower clock (lower power usage) that gets used for audio decoding and the like. If all you are doing is listening to music, than the main CPU can idle and save power.

    If I recall correctly, there was also talk of introducing hybrid x86/ARM motherboards for Windows/Linux dualbooting netbooks. It would be pretty cool to use a superior ARM core most of the time, but also have an x86 chip for running Windows programs in WINE.

    However, shifting everything from CPU to CPU would result in at least a quarter-second (and probably more of a half-second) pause. For me at least, this would be a total showstopper.
    Last edited by MaxIBoy; January 20th, 2010 at 05:55 PM.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by hwttdz View Post
    Why is there not a move towards asymmetric multi core/processor machines? let me explain what I mean. I have a machine that has a huge processor, which is sometimes terribly underutilized, and though the new intel chips can clock down cores and save power that way nothing compares to turning the cores off. So I'm wondering why there's no intel atom/intel core i7 board where the atom chip is powered up all the time, and the i7 chip is powered up as needed. I'm imagining that this would save on the order of 40-50 watts, which for a 24-7 machine could mean some pretty serious power savings and cost savings given that the secondary chip is super cheap to start with. One could also imagine this all happening on one chip where one core is anemic relative the others.
    Why? Because in this case i7 and Atom are two COMPLETELY different CPU architectures that are COMPLETELY incompatabile...and require two COMPLETELY different motherboards and DDR memory types.


    CPU throttling does the same job and is cheaper...and is physically possible. Just because I have a 3.65 gHz quad-core doesn't mean that it is always operating at full tilt wasting juice. Most of the time it is idle at 800mHz.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Im not sure turning cores off on a single chip is worth it and multichip boards have gone out of fashion since multicore chips came in. The targets markets of i7 (high end gaming rigs/heavily used servers/etc) and atom (netbooks) are quite different so the cross over is minimal.

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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Actually, atom and i7 are both i786, with about the same instruction set. But it would be so difficult to pull off, that I doubt it's really such a hot idea. Why not buy a comparatively weak CPU and then use OpenCL acceleration on your graphics card? Both nVidia and ATI drivers support this on Linux now. We just need Gallium3D to get more mature, and we will have open-source OpenCL acceleration on Intel, nVidia, and ATI graphics hardware, as well as a software implementation if we really need it.
    Last edited by MaxIBoy; January 20th, 2010 at 06:00 PM.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by Skripka View Post
    Why? Because in this case i7 and Atom are two COMPLETELY different CPU architectures that are COMPLETELY incompatabile...and require two COMPLETELY different motherboards and DDR memory types.


    CPU throttling does the same job and is cheaper...and is physically possible. Just because I have a 3.65 gHz quad-core doesn't mean that it is always operating at full tilt wasting juice. Most of the time it is idle at 800mHz.
    Ok, I appreciate the differences in architecture between atom and i7, but it should be possible between say atom and c2q. Or perhaps in some new generation of chips.

    I'm not terribly impressed with the throttling on my machine, 1.6 to 2.5 Ghz, what I propose is turning cores off entirely, while a 40% savings is nice, it doesn't compare to 75% (3/4 cores off)+ 0.4*25 (final core downclocked) = 85% or the even better number that could be achieved with asymmetric processors/cores.

    I'm not saying this is possible today, I'm saying I think it seems an attractive idea.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by Xbehave View Post
    Im not sure turning cores off on a single chip is worth it and multichip boards have gone out of fashion since multicore chips came in. The targets markets of i7 (high end gaming rigs/heavily used servers/etc) and atom (netbooks) are quite different so the cross over is minimal.
    I just think mr high end gamer might not mind having to fork up an extra $40 or so for a super weak but super power efficient cpu in order to save maybe double that a year on electricity.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by hwttdz View Post
    Ok, I appreciate the differences in architecture between atom and i7, but it should be possible between say atom and c2q. Or perhaps in some new generation of chips.

    I'm not terribly impressed with the throttling on my machine, 1.6 to 2.5 Ghz, what I propose is turning cores off entirely, while a 40% savings is nice, it doesn't compare to 75% (3/4 cores off)+ 0.4*25 (final core downclocked) = 85% or the even better number that could be achieved with asymmetric processors/cores.

    I'm not saying this is possible today, I'm saying I think it seems an attractive idea.
    In theory it would be possible. Dual LGA775 and LGA1366 server boards are available....but you'd need a full-size tower, and extendedATX board to fit it....and most people don't like having computers that don't fit under or on their desk.

    It also add immensely to complexity of code and management of hardware....for not that much gain.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by hwttdz View Post
    I just think mr high end gamer might not mind having to fork up an extra $40 or so for a super weak but super power efficient cpu in order to save maybe double that a year on electricity.
    Speaking as a high-end gamer, I would be more interested in the reduction of excess heat production.
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    Re: Asymmetric multi core/processor machines

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxIBoy View Post
    Actually, atom and i7 are both i786, with about the same instruction set. But it would be so difficult to pull off, that I doubt it's really such a hot idea. Why not buy a comparatively weak CPU and then use OpenCL acceleration on your graphics card? Both nVidia and ATI drivers support this on Linux now.
    But then you get into the question of what can the video card do to save power? I'm familiar with some laptops which have both integrated and dedicated graphics solutions and can switch on the fly. That would be pretty much ideal, it would be using the graphics card as the high power processor (both in performance and electricity terms), and the cpu as the low power processor. Of course I'm not familiar with this openCL...
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