See Inside January 2006

Recognition Engines

New computer designs process networked "streams" of data for better spam and virus detection

The computer industry survived for much longer than it should have on the assurance that faster processors every few years would cover a multitude of sins--the inefficiency and bloated size of application software being some of the worst transgressions. That luxury appears to be fading as power consumption has skyrocketed and the circuit boards on which the microprocessors sit threaten to transmute themselves into space heaters. Intel (where the hallowed Moore's law has reigned) and other hardware makers have responded by designing computers to run multiple processors at slower speeds.

Multiprocessors come with their own baggage, however. First, writing software that apportions computational tasks among several processors remains an unwanted burden for many programmers. Moreover, a number of the fastest-growing networking applications--from virus scanning to reading Web documents encoded in extensible markup language (XML)--do not lend themselves readily to parallel processing....

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