New 48-core Intel chip promises cloud on a die

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New 48-core Intel chip promises cloud on a die

Latest silicon is the 'wave of the future'.

Intel has been showing off a new type of multi-core processor that it claims will revolutionise the cloud computing and server farm businesses.

Justin Rattner, head of Intel Labs and Intel's chief technology officer, today showed off a 48-core chip, dubbed 48 IA (PDF), which uses an interlinked lattice of processing cores to share data, but which is individually controllable to save power.

The chips are built around a 45nm process technology, and consist of dual-core clusters working in a power envelope of between 25W and 125W, a threefold improvement in performance per watt, according to Intel.

An additional 24 routers are built onto the chip to manage data around the cores, and the whole unit is designed to work with DDR3 memory.

"With a chip like this, you could imagine a cloud datacentre 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 Rattner.

"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."

The 48 IA chip is one of the first examples of what Intel says will be a new era in processor design, moving from multi-core to many-core designs.

The company is enlisting the help of the software community to develop code for the new chips, and has signed up Microsoft, HP and Yahoo's Open Cirrus to port applications to the chip using Hadoop, a Java software framework.

"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. "

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