Friday, July 23, 2010

Intel Core i7-980X Performance Preview: 6-Core Processing Arrives

The state of multi-threaded games

It's been over three years since Intel ushered in the quad-core era of computing with their introduction of the Core 2 Extreme QX6700 in November 2006. Back then we couldn't find a single game capable of taking advantage of the CPU's four processing cores; at best games of that era were only dual-threaded, leaving half of the QX6700's cores idling away unused. Unless you were into 3D rendering, or a mega-tasker running multiple apps in the background while gaming, the CPU just wasn't a feasible option for most users, especially given its $999 price tag.

Today however the software landscape has changed drastically.

Capcom's MT Framework engine is easily our favorite example of a game application that's been coded to run multiple threads simultaneously. The MT Framework engine was first used in Lost Planet, and now can be found in games like Devil May Cry 4 and Resident Evil. Now Capcom is putting the finishing touches on MT Framework 2.0, which will be showcased in Lost Planet 2 later this year. All of these games scale well with CPUs that contain multiple cores.

Many RTS games are also multi-threaded. Relic's Essence 2.0 engine used in Dawn of War II is one example, and Gas Powered Games Supreme Commander is another. World In Conflict is another popular RTS from a few years back that's designed for multiple cores.

And just last week Terminal Reality announced that their Infernal Engine has been updated to support the Core i7-980X. The Infernal engine was used in Ghostbusters last year.

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