Intel Demonstrates 80-core Processor
"Teraflop" is a silly word, like something you'd see in a satire. But evidently this is no joke. I cannot think of a home use for that much computing power.
Intel has built its 80-core processor as part of a research project, but don't expect it to boost your Doom score just yet.
Chief Technical Officer Justin Rattner demonstrated the processor in San Francisco last week for a group of reporters, and the company will present a paper on the project during the International Solid State Circuits Conference in the city this week.
The chip is capable of producing 1 trillion floating-point operations per second, known as a teraflop. That's a level of performance that required 2,500 square feet of large computers a decade ago.
Intel first disclosed it had built a prototype 80-core processor during last fall's Intel Developer Forum, when CEO Paul Otellini promised to deliver the chip within five years. The company's researchers have several hurdles to overcome before PCs and servers come with 80-core processors--such as how to connect the chip to memory and how to teach software developers to write programs for it--but the research chip is an important step, Rattner said.
A company called ClearSpeed has put 96 cores on a single chip. ClearSpeed's chips are used as co-processors with supercomputers that require a powerful chip for a very specific purpose.
Intel's research chip has 80 cores, or "tiles," Rattner said. Each tile has a computing element and a router, allowing it to crunch data individually and transport that data to neighboring tiles.
Intel used 100 million transistors on the chip, which measures 275 millimeters squared. By comparison, its Core 2 Duo chip uses 291 million transistors and measures 143 millimeters squared. The chip was built using Intel's 65-nanometer manufacturing technology, but any likely product based on the design would probably use a future process based on smaller transistors. A chip the size of the current research chip is likely too large for cost-effective manufacturing.