Optimizing Game Architectures with Intel Threading Building Blocks

Games are some of the most performance-demanding applications around. The scientist studying proteins or the animator working on the next photorealistic computer animated film can grudgingly wait for a computation to finish; a game player cannot. Game developers have the challenging task of squeezing as much performance as possible out of today's hardware.

This quest for performance has typically focused on graphics tricks and optimizing low-level instructions. The increasing popularity of multi-core CPUs in the consumer market has created an opportunity to make large performance gains by optimizing for multi-threaded execution. Intel has created a library called the Intel Threading Building Blocks (Intel TBB) to help achieve this goal.

This article demonstrates multiple paths to success for game architectures that optimize with Intel TBB. The techniques described are oriented primarily toward optimizing game architectures that already have some threading, showing how Intel TBB can enhance the performance of these architectures with relatively small amounts of coding effort. Even for a serial architecture, these techniques demonstrate straightforward ways of introducing performance threading.

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