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Intel sets sights on 48-core mobile processors

Posted: 31 Oct 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:48-core processor? terascale computing? parallel?

Back in 2009, Intel introduced a 48-core processor about the size of a postage stamp and a year later shipped samples mostly to academic institutions as part of the company's terascale computing research programme. The project's aim is to eventually embed more cores in a single processor to further boost computing speed in mobile electronics ranging from smartphones to servers.

Fast forward to 2012, Intel CTO Justin Rattner tells Computerworld that the experimental chip, which operates at about the clock speed of Atom-based chips and built on a mesh architecture, could be commercially available sooner than the initial 10-year plan. Rattner explained that the influx of users demanding more natural interfaces and "human-like interaction" will speed up development to meet such requirements.

Several technology analysts point out that if such technology were to be ready within five to ten years, it would definitely be a game changer. Rather than having just one core working at full capacity and exhausting energy, many cores could run in parallel on multiple applications with less power consumption.

One stumbling block researchers at Intel Labs working on the chip are emphasizing is the need for software to keep up with the hardware advancement. There is no point of having a 48-core chip when it cannot be fully utilised in mobile devices.

In an exclusive interview with EE Times last month, EVP Dadi Perlmutter talked about another processor microarchitecture brewing at Intel. When asked about the viability of the fourth generation Haswell as a tablet platform, Perlmutter said that though it would be challenging, it's certainly not impossible. (See Intel pitches Haswell as next-gen tablet platform.)

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