18 Mar 2004 osullivj   » (Journeyer)

Hardware acceleration: my first reaction to hearing about XML hardware acceleration was disbelief. Just another symptom of inappropriate application of XML, and code bloat in general, I thought. After all, XML seems to be the default formatting choice for any messaging job these days, irrespective of performance, interoperability or code ownership requirements. And so much enterprise coding reduces to shuffling data between UI layer, database and messaging format.

But then I thought again. Remember the 8087 ? CPUs didn't always have onboard FPUs. If you needed to do a lot of number crunching, you added the floating point capability. Likewise with graphics. CPUs used to do the bit blitting. As the demand for graphics applications increased, dedicated cards came onto the market that relieved the CPU of the graphics processing. Could we be seeing a similar trend for text ? After all, the string processing workload for the typical PC has been ever rising for the last ten years, with ever increasing volumes of email, HTML, XML etc. Maybe CPUs need specialised Text Processing Units alongside their FPUs and GPUs.

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