Software development needs to keep up with hardware advances

Core i7
The Intel Core i7: Meet the new daddy of chiptown

I'm full of the joys of Intel right now, what with the quantum leap forward that the Core i7, X25-M CPU and SSDs represent. Sadly, though, however good the hardware is there needs to be parity with it and the software you're going to power with your new techie toys. And that software future I want to rave about is a while away yet.

As we've seen with the Nehalem generation of CPUs, Vista gets itself all in a muddle with the HyperThreading. Sometimes it throws two threads onto the same core, missing the whole point of separating the instruction sets.

This bottlenecking is also true of my main PC love – gaming. I'm far happier gaming away on my PC than my Xbox 360, just look at the visual split you get between Fallout 3 on the two machines. Unfortunately, development on the PC is inevitably beholden to the lowest common denominator.

Console development is already happily playing around within a multiple threaded world - the 360's PowerPC CPU is running six threads on three cores and the PS3's Cell is running eight.

In PC land, though, dual-core machines with a paltry two threads are only now becoming the norm and your average console port wants to hit as wide a user base as possible, so often the multithreaded performance never filters down to the PC versions.

Talking with the devs behind FIFA 08 last year they were refusing to do a 'next-gen' version for the PC due to the fact that there weren't enough threads on the average rig to be able to separate out essentials like AI.

Fingers crossed Windows 7 will be a bit cannier about separating out the instructions from an unoptimised game and spread the operations intelligently across the multiple threads now available with the advent of Core i7.

It's not just the £1,000 Nehalem that's stupid-fast, you see; the £200 version is easily the match of the last generation's top model so we can only hope the trickle-down effect is rapid enough to encourage game developers to take a punt and take advantage of the PC's raw power. Ah, g'wan.


First published in PC Format, Issue 221

Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at