Intel researchers claim to have developed the world’s first programmable processor that delivers supercomputer-like performance from a single, low-power, 80-core chip.
The chip is not much larger than the size of a finger nail while cosuming only 62 watts, less than many single-core processors today. It is the result of the company’s ‘Tera-scale computing’ research aimed at delivering Teraflop performance for future PCs and servers.
Tera-scale performance, and the ability to move terabytes of data, will play a pivotal role in future computers with ubiquitous access to the internet by powering new applications and enabling the rise of high-definition entertainment.
Intel has no plans to bring this exact chip – designed with floating point cores – to market. However, the company’s Tera-scale research is instrumental in investigating new innovations in individual or specialised processor or core functions. This Teraflop research chip offered specific insights in new silicon design methodologies, high-bandwidth interconnects and energy management approaches.
The chip features a tile design in which smaller cores are replicated as ‘tiles,’ making it easier to design a chip with many cores.
The Teraflop chip also features a mesh-like ‘network-on-a-chip’ architecture allowing super-high bandwidth communications between the cores, and capable of moving Terabits of data per second inside the chip. The research also investigated methods to power cores on and off independently, so only the ones needed to complete a task are used, providing more energy efficiency.
Further Tera-scale research will focus on the addition of 3D stacked memory to the chip as well as developing more sophisticated research prototypes with many general-purpose Intel Architecture-based cores.