Software fails to cope with processor overload

Operating systems and software applications will struggle to cope with the rising number of processors embedded in each new generation of CPU, analyst house Gartner has warned.

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Operating systems and software applications will struggle to cope with the rising number of processors embedded in each new generation of CPU, analyst house Gartner has warned.

"The relentless doubling of processors per microprocessor chip will drive the total processor counts of upcoming server generations to peaks well above the levels for which key software have been engineered," said Gartner in a research report. It warned that operating systems, middleware, virtualisation tools and applications will all be affected.

It says this will impact organisations, which will have to face "difficult decisions, hurried migrations to new versions and performance challenges as a consequence of this evolution."

"Looking at the specifications for these software products, it is clear that many will be challenged to support the hardware configurations possible today and those that will be accelerating in the future," said Carl Claunch, VP and analyst in a statement. "The impact is akin to putting a Ferrari engine in a go-cart; the power may be there, but design mismatches severely limit the ability to exploit it."

Software it seems is struggling to keep pace with the rapid growth of multicore processors, but also from the fact that each core gets more threads as well, which is compounding the issue. CPU chips with two and four cores per processor are relatively common now, but high-end servers are also now featuring anywhere from eight to 32 cores.

And Claunch said that organisations will get double the number of processors in each chip generation, approximately every two years.

"In this way a 32-socket, high-end server with eight core chips in the sockets would deliver 256 processors in 2009," the report stated. "In two years, with 16 processors per socket appearing on the market, the machine swells to 512 processors in total. Four years from now, with 32 processors per socket shipping, that machine would host 1,024 processors."

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