[R-SIG-Mac] Multiple cores on a Mac

Joseph Kunkel joe at bio.umass.edu
Fri Feb 5 14:52:44 CET 2016

To me there are big gorillas in the room and I need to know why I can not use them all.

• Testing for physical and logical cpus on Joe's MacBook Pro.
Josephs-MacBook-Pro:~ josephgkunkel$ /usr/sbin/sysctl -n hw.physicalcpu
Josephs-MacBook-Pro:~ josephgkunkel$ /usr/sbin/sysctl -n hw.logicalcpu

Prior to about 2012 my multicore Macs would use all (physical) cores automagically in R.  %*% was multicore automatically.

A 24 hour heavy matrix calculation would take a little over 6 hours on a 4 core Mac.

Then some problem with the BLAS library changed everything and colleague stats people and I got really mad that we could not do our calculations as fast in R.

Many work-around libraries were devised which did not seem to be that useful for freewielding matrix operations.

Then Revolution R seemed to solve the problem and patented(?) it.  … but not for Macs.

Recently they provided a free Mac version but using their R ‘open' version messes up my computer for updating the libraries I am addicted to using.

My question after this appologeticlay long narrative is:

Why has no satisfactory and transparent method for multicore use been available to CRAN R?

Secondarily,  how could our R open software system be hijacked by Revolution and now Microsoft?

I would be pleased to know that there are colleagues out there who are similarly hoping for an R core solution within CRAN.

I can do primitive matrix things faster with Julia, which is encouraging, but the libraries and flexability for me are not there yet.


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Joseph G. Kunkel, Research Professor
112A Marine Science Center
University of New England
Biddeford ME 04005

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