Intel, the world’s largest chip-manufacturer is all out to set a ground-breaking record that’ll far surpass all it’s prior achievements. The brand new introduction is going to be an 80-core chip that crunches numbers at the rate of 1 trillion floating-point operations/second. That too running at a 3.2-GHz clock speed with a total power consumption of 62 watts, to yield a record 16 Gflops/watt. If these figures don’t mean much to you, imagine a raw power of a large mainframe computer on a single chip or the “equivalent of 80 blade processors plugged into a high-speed backplane.” If you still can’t imagine the horsepower, think of 80 separate computers using a high-speed hardware interconnect – all on a single chip silently powering you desktop.
While all other big players like AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and even startups like Ambric Inc. are cracking their brains over massively parallel multicore chips, Intel has managed to outsmart everyone by taking a giant leap in a completely different direction. Am sure you’ve heard of the concept called “routing” that makes the internet tick. Every single computer hooked to the internet manages to find each other through an intelligent process called routing or route mapping. If one particular route fails for some reason (intermediate servers go down, for example), alternate routes can always be discovered so as to not hamper the flow of data. The Teraflops Research Chip employs a similar technology that allows it to effectively bypass a core that has been damaged due to some reason and still continue processing smoothly without letting off an inkling to the software running on it.
The possibilities of such processing power are limitless. For example, artificial intelligence, instant video communications, photo-realistic games, multimedia data mining and real-time speech recognition – all of which, once deemed as far-fetched science fiction as portrayed in ‘Star Trek’ shows – could become everyday realities. Fields like realtime weather prediction & financial modelling – which are severely gagged by the lack of adequate processing power could gain tremendous benefits out of such a technology.
While the chip is just a prototype that is going to be demonstrated at the Integrated Solid State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) in San Francisco and is far from being mass-produced, it definitely gives us a vivid glimpse into what the future has in store for us.