CAD Craft

A resource to CAD Craft specialists, and a showcase of my work — in both material and virtual worlds

Evolution of computing power

A few weeks ago, students & staff at Purdue built their own super computer in just a few hours.  When they finished, it was, at that moment, it was #40 out of the top 500 fastest computers on the planet.  Multi-core processor architecture is also already here and functional.  This is not just projections, as in Intel’s Terascale project, but Tilera’s approach to “tiled processors” suggests a wave of exponential rather than incremental growth, and swiftly.  As Meshverse notes in the above link, Tilera started “started shipping a 64-core processor with an on-chip network called iMesh” last year(2007).

One of the fascinating aspects of this ’tiled’ approach is the premise of  “is very much like the Internet on a chip,” as noted by Tilera’s founder & CTO Anant Agarwal.

“The hope of the industry is to double the number of cores every 18 months. My prediction is, by 2014, we will have 1,000-core architectures. But the problem is, [current] architectures don’t scale.”

The point here is that between the hardware developments, the evolving architectures for memory, multithread processing, and others, the matrix within which CAD functions is about to go to warp. So, just as several other changes are calling for different ways of thinking and engaging what it is we do — from 3D printing to the genericizing of CAD — we must pay attention to the confluence if we are to effectively ride the wave.

Among other things, this impacts how we approach design in the first place, particularly in large component assemblies.  Many of the work-arounds are melting away, and features once dreamed of are now common-place.  This also means that the CAD companies must keep their software development on par with hardware evolution.  We know how long it took to get stable 64 bit versions of SolidWorks, et al.  If there was a struggle there, and to leverage the power of dual core, how long will it be before we have apps which read our tiled configurations and adapt the software accordingly?  Otherwise, we will be stuck in the age-old American dilemma of having a Lamborghini in a country where the top legal speed is 70 mph.


1 Comment»

[…] referred to as a “supercomputer” available on the desktop. There’s a good post on this on the CAD Craft blog. Now, Anwar Ghuloum of Intel has just made a bold proclamation: “Ultimately, the advice […]

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