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Researchers create ultra-fast '1,000 core' processor, Intel also toys with the idea

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
December 28, 2010
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We've already seen field programmable gate arrays (or FPGAs) used to create energy efficient supercomputers, but a team of researchers at the University of Glasgow led by Dr. Wim Vanderbauwhede now say that they have "effectively" created a 1,000 core processor based on the technology. To do that, the researchers divvied up the millions of transistors in the FPGA into 1,000 mini-circuits that are each able to process their own instructions -- which, while still a proof of concept, has already proven to be about twenty times faster than "modern computers" in some early tests. Interestingly, Intel has also been musing about the idea of a 1,000 core processor recently, with Timothy Mattson of the company's Microprocessor Technology Laboratory saying that such a processor is "feasible." He's referring to Intel's Single-chip Cloud Computer (or SCC, pictured here), which currently packs a whopping 48 cores, but could "theoretically" scale up to 1,000 cores. He does note, however, that there are a number of other complicating factors that could limit the number of cores that are actually useful -- namely, Amdahl's law (see below) -- but he says that Intel is "looking very hard at a range of applications that may indeed require that many cores."

[Thanks, Andrew]



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