December 4, 2009
Intel Shows Off New 48-Core Cloud Chip
Chip making giant Intel has revealed a prototype chip that contains 48 individual processing cores in a piece of silicon the size of a postage stamp.
It is called a Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC) and has 1.3 billion transistors, which are the tiny on-off switches that support chip technology.
Theoretically, each processing core could run a separate operating system, whereas currently top-end chips for desktop computers usually contain four separate processors.
Intel and rival AMD are both set to debut new six-core devices in 2010 that will let computers simultaneously tackle a number of complex tasks simultaneously.
The SCC was named "cloud" for its ability to combine the computing resources that usually fill several racks in a data center.
The chip is composed of 24 "tiles", with each one effectively acting as a dual-core processor.
According to Intel, the research that went into the chip indicates that it could fit 100 cores into a single piece of silicon eventually.
The company boasted an 80-core processor in 2007, and a U.S. firm called Tilera announced a 100-core chip earlier this year. Graphics chip maker Nvidia has also given a glimpse of its next-generation processor that sports 512 cores.
However, the SCC is different than both of those in that it is based on Intel's X86 architecture, which means it can run operating systems found in normal desktop computers like Windows and Linux.
Microsoft said it has already started the development process of the SCC for future exploits.
Intel announced that it had already demonstrated Linux running on each core, and has even discovered a method to significantly reduce the management overhead required to keep the processors crunching data in synch.
In an effort to keep power consumption at a minimum, the tiles that the chip is comprised of can be separated into islands of various sizes that run at separate voltages.
"Over time, I expect these advanced concepts to find their way into mainstream devices, just as advanced automotive technology such as electronic engine control, air bags and anti-lock braking eventually found their way into all cars," said Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer.
The SCC is expected to be officially available during the first half of 2010, with more details being released at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco on February 8, 2010, according to Intel.
Image Caption: Futuristic Intel Chip - Single Chip Cloud Computer has 48 Intel cores and runs at as low as 25 watts. (Intel)
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