Streaming SIMD Extensions - Software and Hardware Issues

Software and Hardware Issues

With all x86 instruction set extensions, it is up to the BIOS, operating system and application programmer to test and detect their existence and proper operation.

  • Intel and AMD offer applications to detect what extensions your CPU supports.
  • The CPUID opcode is a processor supplementary instruction (its name derived from CPU IDentification) for the x86 architecture. It was introduced by Intel in 1993 when it introduced the Pentium and SL-Enhanced 486 processors.

User application uptake of the x86 extensions has been slow with even bare minimum baseline MMX and SSE support (in some cases) not being supported by applications some 10 years after these extensions became commonly available. Distributed computing has accelerated the use of these extensions in the scientific community—and many scientific applications refuse to run unless the CPU supports SSE2 or SSE3.

The use of multiple revisions of an application to cope with the many different sets of extensions available is the simplest way around the x86 extension optimization problem. Software libraries and some applications have begun to support multiple extension types hinting that full use of available x86 instructions may finally become common some 5 to 15 years after the instructions were initially introduced.

Read more about this topic:  Streaming SIMD Extensions

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