New Software Design Technique Allows Programs to Run Faster

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new approach to software development that will allow common computer programs to run up to 20 percent faster and possibly incorporate new security measures.

The researchers have found a way to run different parts of some programs — including, for the first time, such widely used programs as word processors and Web browsers — at the same time, which makes the programs operate more efficiently.

In order to understand how they did it, you have to know a little bit about computers. The brain of a computer chip is its central processing unit, or "core." Computing technology has advanced to the point where it is now common to have between four and eight cores on each chip. But for a program to utilize these cores, it has to be broken down into separate "threads" — so that each core can execute a different part of the program simultaneously. The process of breaking down a program into threads is called parallelization, and allows computers to run programs very quickly.

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