Video Games and Multi-Core CPUs

Despite our computers having used multicore architectures for the past few years, games taking advantage of multi-threading are still very scarce. Among recent games we can name Super Commander by Gas Powered Games, or more recently Hellgate: London by the now closed Flagship Studios, the later using scaling techniques to provide different graphic options depending on the number of available cores.

Intel booth at GCDC 2008

Multi-core CPUs started with "virtual" multi-cores with the hyperthreading in Pentium 4s. Soon after, we've seen the first real bi-cores CPUs by AMD and Intel. Now, newer CPUs bring 4 cores, like the new Intel Core2 Extreme quad-cores. Where are the games actually using more than one core? Apart from few exceptions, they don't exist, but this is about to change. Indeed, Intel now offers developers software development tools to help them use multi-threading in their application, and get the full potential from multicore CPUs. One of those is Intel® Threading Building Blocks 2.1, a C++ based library for multi-threading purposes which was presented in a conference by Intel's Jérôme Muffat-Méridol and Basher Khan. It's worth to be noted that this library is open-source, and you don't need to pay anything unless you want Intel's technical support.

Rain Demo with 1 core then 4

Intel is here at the GC Developers Conference 2008 in Leipzig and shows some new games using their software developement tools on their new quad-core CPUs. The result is quite astounding. Among the games shown, Velvet Assassin from Replay Studio and Gamecock, World in Conflict: Soviet Assault by Massive and Vivendi, Wall-E by Disney-Pixar and THQ, Bionic Commando by Dice and CAPCOM, Race Driver GRID by Codemasters, and Sacred 2: Fallen Angel by Ascaron, game which is long awaited in our H&S fans community. Additionally there was a Rain Demo running a thread pool an allowing to test the effects of the use of more cores; switch from one core to four cores, and right away you can bring up much more rain particules. Intel worked closely with most of those developers to help them optimize their games for Intel multi-core CPUs, and provide the developer community with a community space where developers can exchange on visual development, and help each other. More on the Visual Computing Developer Community space. Gaming future looks brighter now, and games that run better on an old single core CPU than on modern dual core CPUs will hopefully soon be a thing of the past.