Thursday, December 3rd 2009

Futuristic Intel Chip Could Reshape How Computers are Built

Researchers from Intel Labs demonstrated an experimental, 48-core Intel processor, or "single-chip cloud computer," that rethinks many of the approaches used in today's designs for laptops, PCs and servers. This futuristic chip boasts about 10 to 20 times the processing engines inside today's most popular Intel Core-branded processors.

The long-term research goal is to add incredible scaling features to future computers that spur entirely new software applications and human-machine interfaces. The company plans to engage industry and academia next year by sharing 100 or more of these experimental chips for hands-on research in developing new software applications and programming models.

While Intel will integrate key features in a new line of Core-branded chips early next year and introduce six- and eight-core processors later in 2010, this prototype contains 48 fully programmable Intel processing cores, the most ever on a single silicon chip. It also includes a high-speed on-chip network for sharing information along with newly invented power management techniques that allow all 48 cores to operate extremely energy efficiently at as little as 25 watts, or at 125 watts when running at maximum performance (about as much as today's Intel processors and just two standard household light bulbs).
Intel plans to gain a better understanding of how to schedule and coordinate the many cores of this experimental chip for its future mainstream chips. For example, future laptops with processing capability of this magnitude could have "vision" in the same way a human can see objects and motion as it happens and with high accuracy.

Imagine, for example, someday interacting with a computer for a virtual dance lesson or on-line shopping that uses a future laptop's 3-D camera and display to show you a "mirror" of yourself wearing the clothes you are interested in. Twirl and turn and watch how the fabric drapes and how the color complements your skin tone.

This kind of interaction could eliminate the need of keyboards, remote controls or joysticks for gaming. Some researchers believe computers may even be able to read brain waves, so simply thinking about a command, such as dictating words, would happen without speaking.

Intel Labs has nicknamed this test chip a "single-chip cloud computer" because it resembles the organization of datacenters used to create a "cloud" of computing resources over the Internet, a notion of delivering such services as online banking, social networking and online stores to millions of users.

Cloud datacenters are comprised of tens to thousands of computers connected by a physically cabled network, distributing large tasks and massive datasets in parallel. Intel's new experimental research chip uses a similar approach, yet all the computers and networks are integrated on a single piece of Intel 45nm, high-k metal-gate silicon about the size of a postage stamp, dramatically reducing the amount of physical computers needed to create a cloud datacenter.

"With a chip like this, you could imagine a cloud datacenter of the future which will be an order of magnitude more energy efficient than what exists today, saving significant resources on space and power costs," said Justin Rattner, head of Intel Labs and Intel's Chief Technology Officer. "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."

Cores Allow Software to Intelligently Direct Data for Efficiency
The concept chip features a high-speed network between cores to efficiently share information and data. This technique gives significant improvement in communication performance and energy efficiency over today's datacenter model, since data packets only have to move millimeters on chip instead of tens of meters to another computer system.

Application software can use this network to quickly pass information directly between cooperating cores in a matter of a few microseconds, reducing the need to access data in slower

off-chip system memory. Applications can also dynamically manage exactly which cores are to be used for a given task at a given time, matching the performance and energy needs to the demands of each.

Related tasks can be executed on nearby cores, even passing results directly from one to the next as in an assembly line to maximize overall performance. In addition, this software control is extended with the ability to manage voltage and clock speed. Cores can be turned on and off or change their performance levels, continuously adapting to use the minimum energy needed at a given moment.

Overcoming Software Challenges
Programming processors with multiple cores is a well-known challenge for the industry as computer and software makers move toward many-cores on a single silicon chip. The prototype allows popular and efficient parallel programming approaches used in cloud datacenter software to be applied on the chip. Researchers from Intel, HP and Yahoo's Open Cirrus collaboration have already begun porting cloud applications to this 48 IA core chip using Hadoop, a Java software framework supporting data-intensive, distributed applications as demonstrated by Rattner today.

Intel plans to build 100 or more experimental chips for use by dozens of industrial and academic research collaborators around the world with the goal of developing new software applications and programming models for future many-core processors.

"Microsoft is partnering with Intel to explore new hardware and software architectures supporting next-generation client plus cloud applications," said Dan Reed, Microsoft's corporate vice president of Extreme Computing. "Our early research with the single chip cloud computer prototype has already identified many opportunities in intelligent resource management, system software design, programming models and tools, and future application scenarios."

This milestone represents the latest achievement from Intel's Tera-scale Computing Research Program, aimed at breaking barriers to scaling future chips to 10s-100s of cores. It was co-created by Intel Labs at its Bangalore (India), Braunschweig (Germany) and Hillsboro, Ore. (U.S.) research centers. Details on the chip's architecture and circuits are scheduled to be published in a paper at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in February.

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46 Comments on Futuristic Intel Chip Could Reshape How Computers are Built

#1
Easy Rhino
Linux Advocate
TheMailMan78 said:
Please no brain wave reading. My computer would just open to a porn site with Megan Fox and shoot silicon all over my leg.
that's not silicon...
Posted on Reply
#2
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
This is actually very cool. The concept of a cloud PC is .. interesting.
Posted on Reply
#3
zithe
Frick said:
This is actually very cool. The concept of a cloud PC is .. interesting.
Ever read the book Prey by Michael Crichton? XD
Posted on Reply
#5
Wile E
Power User
zithe said:
No I mean the bulbs don't use as much amperage as a PC. If you pushed even just a couple amps it'd probably blow
150w takes the same amount of amperage, regardless of source. Amperage=Wattage/voltage.
Posted on Reply
#6
Swansen
This processor will find the REAL answer to life the universe and everything, and it won't be 42 :laugh:

(this thread is hilarious)
Posted on Reply
#7
Morgoth
i want 2 in crossfire :D
Posted on Reply
#8
a_ump
zithe said:
Ever read the book Prey by Michael Crichton? XD
off topic but yea that book is f*ckin awesome :toast:.

n as for this CPU yea i think it'll be like before just a prototype that might help them find advances for their next architecture.
Posted on Reply
#9
Wile E
Power User
Swansen said:
This processor will find the REAL answer to life the universe and everything, and it won't be 42 :laugh:

(this thread is hilarious)
Nope, I've checked and rechecked my calculations. The answer is definitely 42. Perhaps we need to go back and rethink the question?
Posted on Reply
#11
DaedalusHelios
a111087 said:
yeah, yeah... what about 80-core chip that they showed running a couple years back, we never saw it again. guess this is one of those things again
The thing is that they could, but production costs and heavy profit margin requirements would hold the production back.... also who knows how many defects they had before they made that perfect chip etc.


[I.R.A]_FBi said:
there are 2 other considerations other than wattage ... voltage and current ...
You use voltage and current(Amperage) to make the wattage figure... making a wattage statement answers the Voltage Amperage question basically. (Thats basically Electronics 101 lol)
Posted on Reply
#12
Wile E
Power User
DaedalusHelios said:
You use voltage and current(Amperage) to make the wattage figure... making a wattage statement answers the Voltage Amperage question basically. (Thats basically Electronics 101 lol)
Yep. Wattage = amperage * voltage
Posted on Reply
#13
DaedalusHelios
I am just saying all power will be handled by the motherboard so asking or talking about the power it would consume is nicely summed up by the wattage statement.

I think we never see this stuff because they are holding back the tech they have.... Intel is not receiving enough competition from AMD.
Posted on Reply
#14
zithe
Wile E said:
150w takes the same amount of amperage, regardless of source. Amperage=Wattage/voltage.
K. I've learned something today.

Still, 150W bulbs in all of your lamps..?



Now that I actually read the original post, this sounds really cool.
Posted on Reply
#15
fullinfusion
1.21 Gigawatts
Judgment day is soon upon us.....
-Sighed- J.C ;)
Posted on Reply
#17
DaedalusHelios
hayder.master said:
can i overclock it to get better performance :D
I will send you one. :D
Posted on Reply
#18
Hayder_Master
DaedalusHelios said:
I will send you one. :D
i give you 10 cores as shipping :laugh:
Posted on Reply
#19
Neelesh
What i fear they will be using in in nuclear stuffs like they do with AMD processors.
Posted on Reply
#21
Hayder_Master
Neelesh said:
What i fear they will be using in in nuclear stuffs like they do with AMD processors.
can i have more info please :wtf: :eek:
Posted on Reply
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