Intel has announced an eighty-core research chip, running at one Teraflops at the Integrated Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco today. The chip giant says it has no specific plans to bring the unnamed processor to market, but says it's paving the way towards Tera-scale computing (and Tera-ble puns from the IT media).
As per existing Intel dogma, power-saving is a key feature: Intel's APAC corporate communications manager Nick Jacobs says just ten years ago, the first computer to benchmark at one Teraflops was the ASCI Red. This comprised nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro CPUs each running at 200MHz and used up 500 kiloWatts of power. In comparison, the new Teraflops chip uses a mere 62 Watts, Jacobs says.
Around half of the research and development for the Teraflops processor was done at Intel's India Research Labs, says Jacobs. This marks a shift for Intel, which has traditionally concentrated its research in Silicon Valley, United States.
The chip features an innovative tile design in which smaller cores are replicated as “tiles,” making it easier to design a chip with many cores. With Intel’s discovery of new and robust materials to build future transistors and no immediate end in sight for Moore’s Law, this lays a path to manufacture multi-core processors with billions of transistors more efficiently in the future.
The Teraflops chip also features a mesh-like “network-on-a-chip” architecture that allows super-high bandwidth communications between the cores and is 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, thus providing more energy efficiency.
Further Tera-scale research will focus on the addition of 3-D stacked memory to the chip as well as developing more sophisticated research prototypes with many general-purpose Intel® Architecture-based cores. Today, the Intel® Tera-scale Computing Research Program has more than 100 projects underway that explore other architectural, software and system design challenges.
Intel is presenting eight other papers at ISSCC, including one which will cover the Intel® CoreTM micro-architecture and its use in dual and quad core processors spanning laptops to desktop PCs and servers, using both 65nm and revolutionary 45nm process technologies. Other papers cover such topics as a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) reader transceiver chip, a low-power cache for mobile applications and a reconfigurable Viterbi accelerator in addition to novel circuits for on-die supply resonance suppression, on-chip phase-noise measurement and adaptive techniques for variations and aging.