Intel shows off prototype 48-core processor

By on December 3, 2009, 11:03 AM
Intel offered another glimpse at their long-term plans this week by unveiling what they call the "single-chip cloud computer," a concept processor that houses 48 fully programmable x86 cores on a single silicon die. The chip is an offspring of its Tera-scale research and development program aimed at scaling multi-core architectures for the future, and comes two years after the company unveiled the 80-core Polaris prototype.

Both chips employ a "network" approach that keeps each one of the x86 cores communicating with each other at full speed. However, this latest version also features newer power management techniques that allow it to consume no more than 125W at peak load and as little as 25W, even when all 48 cores are active.

While no specific details were given regarding its performance, the idea is to increase processing power by having many Pentium-class cores running simultaneously at modest clock speeds rather than just driving up frequency. Cores can be turned on and off or change their performance levels, continuously adapting to use the minimum energy needed at a given moment.

This is a similar approach to that being touted by Tilera, a five-year-old fabless semiconductor startup that has already unveiled designs for even more efficient chips containing 16, 36, 64, and up to 100 cores.




User Comments: 43

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buttus said:

This is SICK. Intel sure likes to show off their blazing R&D to anyone that will watch it. For the most part though most software isn't written to take advantage of Quad cores let alone 48.

compdata compdata, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This holds a lot of promise for decreasing the size/weight/power of server systems. Although by the time this comes out in full production the demands on servers will have gone up substantially as well.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

buttus beat me to the punch. They can have all the cores they want, but until software is written to take advantage of it, it's meaningless.

Serag said:

Moar Cores!!

Wonder when there will be any piece of software that make use of more than 4 cores!

But the cloud computing concept maybe the key to make use of all the cores..even though its not physical as far as I understand

insect said:

Software can, and always does catch up with the hardware technology the users demand. Albeit, less so more recently as computing power become more and more meaningless, by this I mean, we've reached a point where the time difference to open any given single application is so small that we don't even notice, so we don't demand better programming.

The scientific community certainly notices it, and that's what pushes this type of R&D, but they often program their own proprietary software for the machine as well. Gamers continue to demand better hardware so they can run one single high-end application well and/or three or four medium applications at once (i.e., WoW), but the masses aren't like they used to be in which they competed for the most mhz, MBs of RAM, hard drive size, etc., because as I said... there is so little difference to the average user for opening a web browser or document that they don't demand the higher end stuff.

Needless to say though (given that I read techspot), I'm excited about this R&D and would love to expand my e-peen by having 48-cores on a chip just to say I have it, regardless of performance gains.

klepto12 klepto12, TechSpot Paladin, said:

wow this is something that seems rather extreme 48 cores? we cant even code software for 4 cores much less a 48 core monster. i think money would be better spent making 4 and 6 core cpu's more efficient and faster all around than wasting money on 48 cores with lower core clocks versus current cpus. that is just my opinion but i think its a good one everyone seems to want to just throw more cores at any one job than actually making cpus run a lot faster and mor efficient.

Regenweald said:

So ended the GHz wars and the Core wars wreaked havoc upon the realm.

Nvidia keeps marketing their G-Super-PU's using a little image of a 'conventional' processor sporting 4 cores next to their Tesla offering with a massive 240 cores. Someone was bound to take notice that a new processor manufacturer snuck up to the front of the line. Everyone and their little sister is going to be cramming cores on to a die.

The enterprise can keep x86, I just hope that at some point the desktop gets a better option.

Regenweald said:

Suppose we need a project like Haiku to get stable and fully functional pretty quickly if we are ever going to be able to use all that power efficiently.... else it's just a 'mine's bigger' contest.

ryan29121 said:

48 Core? What happened between 6-48 cores?

Orionlocke said:

48 cores, thats crazy! I've gotta hand it to Intel's R&D, their are definitely pushing the envelope with the CPU technology. Definitely exciting to think what's going to be available hardware wise to usin the next few years!

Moltar said:

48 cores? That is ridiculous. Watch out AMD here comes intel into the server market!

ununpentium said:

Wow! 48 cores.... I hope that the memory bandwidth will match up to this unleashed cores herd...

AbsolutGaloot said:

I'm surprised that there is still development like this instead of everyone putting all their effort into quantum computing. A single quantum processor will blow stuff like this out of the water.

Hereimiz said:

this is crazy... when can i get one?

Vicenarian said:

SuperPi scores anyone?

RealXboxMaster said:

Dammmmm.... That is just insane.

swilllx2p said:

absolutgaloot said:

I'm surprised that there is still development like this instead of everyone putting all their effort into quantum computing. A single quantum processor will blow stuff like this out of the water.

Care to go on about what quantum computing is supposed to be? I'll probably just google it..i'm interested though.

BlackIrish said:

That just sucks!

Cos they know it's cheaper for them to just slap on more old cores together (no need to invent new stuff), than to research new tecnology so they can make higher frequency (more powerful) single cores.

I bet a Dual Core Core i5 6 Ghz CPU will beat the crap out of any 8 or 10 core cpu at more than 90% of the daily activities.

UglyChild said:

But the question is: "Will it play Star Craft?"

kaonis92 said:

Programs written to utilize so many cores for mainstream use are certainly far away...

Afenix said:

It's not all about cores.. It's about frequencies and whats inside the CPU.. For example some dual core processors beat the hell out of the intel quad cpus. I bought a i7 920 and it's still nice, but in some cases i5 is better, but yet it doesnt have the HT technology.. Anyway, not the NUMBERS, but the QUALITY is the most important thing.

Decimae said:

@swillx2p: Quantum computing allows a bit to take more than just 0 and 1, making the computer exponentially more powerful. Though Quantum Computing is quite far from practice.

If they manage to make these cores work together, this is great.

Vicenarian said:

swilllx2p said:

absolutgaloot said:

I'm surprised that there is still development like this instead of everyone putting all their effort into quantum computing. A single quantum processor will blow stuff like this out of the water.

Care to go on about what quantum computing is supposed to be? I'll probably just google it..i'm interested though.

I think it might be the same as what I would term, "Distributed computing"...where the processor workload for a certain project is distributed across multiple computers. There is some sort of project out there, I forget its name, but I think it is about sequencing the human genome or something or other.

Wagan8r Wagan8r said:

Now I need a mop to wipe up my drool...

Ok, while a lot of people are saying all these core are meaningless until there is software to take advantage of it, they need to realize, THERE IS. I, as a software engineer, write proprietary software that DOES take advantage of all of those cores. Just because MW2 doesn't utilize them doesn't mean there isn't a big, I mean BIG market for them. The video game devs will catch up soon enough. Unfortunately, that's where the consoles are hurting the video game industry.

jgvmx said:

Supercorefragilisticexpialidocious!

Basher said:

This is exactly what I was going to mention wagan8r. Companies that will be buying and utilizing these processors will either write their own software to take advantage of them, or buy software designed to. This isn't going to be a consumer level item anytime soon.

Timonius Timonius said:

Seriously?!? I'm eager to find out the performance data. Will a single core (while all the other 63 cores are running processes) outperform, say, a Pentium 4?

Timonius Timonius said:

Oops, my bad, I meant the other '47' cores.

lfg18 said:

Wow that is really insane how do they do it, we are still waiting for the sofware to catch on 4 cores systems and they show uo this baby, i would like to see what it is capable of, servers will benefit a lot from this kind of chipsets since home applications are not really meant to benefit from multicore.

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

Sounds nice but the question is, how much is it gonna cost meh

saintbodhisatva said:

..Both chips employ a "network" approach that keeps each one of the x86 cores communicating with each other at full speed. However, this latest version also features newer power management techniques that allow it to consume no more than 125W at peak load and as little as 25W, even when all 48 cores are active...

Im going against most of the comments here, but If I understand this correctly, it could mean that it may not be dependent on the software to maximize its capabilities. I am assuming of course, that "keeps each one of the x86 cores communicating with each other at full speed" is done by the architecture itself, not by the software that will use it. If this is true, then the "problems" mentioned, that consumers were under utilizing Quad cores, does not apply to this chip design... I hope I'm right on this one, because it really is good news if this is so.

ken777 said:

With this many cores, I wonder if some of them could be dynamically allocated to act as a GPU. I think Larrabee is based on a bunch of parallel Pentium class cores too.

Nirkon said:

Truthfully I can already see the future for this,

if they manage to get respectable performance for these chips,

then they'll start upping the clocks, then you'll have 48-100 cores running at

1GHZ speed each.. haha... that'll probably be like 20 years away or something

aSilva said:

i dont know where i saw but there is another place where they are working on a 100 core processor. oh and by the way cell processors are done...

levar said:

UglyChild said:

But the question is: "Will it play Star Craft?"

I'm pretty sure it will be able to play starcraft. But this is crazy this what the future is all about, but 48 cores o.O what in the world! Who is gonna use that the military... probably but I don't see this even stepping foot into the public not for another wow 10 years lol nah maybe lets in 2020 there will probably be a chip with 500cores

Dawnpatrol said:

BlackIrish said:

That just sucks!

Cos they know it's cheaper for them to just slap on more old cores together (no need to invent new stuff), than to research new tecnology so they can make higher frequency (more powerful) single cores.

I bet a Dual Core Core i5 6 Ghz CPU will beat the crap out of any 8 or 10 core cpu at more than 90% of the daily activities.

This is new technology! The cores may not be new. But getting them to function together is. There's a reason they stopped going for just faster and faster chips. The chips were using too much energy and not giving much return. What you;re saying about a dual core beating an 8 or 10 core is what people were saying about single cores compared to dual core!

Guest said:

I want one for my boinc projects. With this new processor, I could run 48 tasks at once.

lordsburg said:

Want one badly. Just did a 8 page research paper on Intel and their business ethics. The Tera Scale Computing Research Group is amazing, 80 core prototype pushing 1 Teraflop amazes me. Someday soon this will all be outdated though, and people will just connect to THE CLOUD.

Flannelwarrior said:

People keep saying the same thing: software can't utilize four cores, much less 48. This is not true. Maybe games aren't currently being written to utilize the entire processor, but when I encode videos, I watch all four of my cores spike to 98%. Obviously the 48 core processor will be used for science, not for games.

Guest said:

But will it run crysis?

Concorde said:

Nice one jgvmx.

Guest said:

wow.. I am sure Intel is going to rock with this latest technology and the processor

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Guest said:

the amazing thing about multi core is that you dont just have to rely on the program to split up its own processes to use multicore capabilities, it can also be used by the OS and even the OS can split up the program even when the program itself was never designed to be used on 8+ cores, so it is up to the maker of the OS to be able to set up that kind of splitting capabality and make sure it runs stable at the same time, even being able to split up the OS's different processes between each individual processor would be a massive relief on the processor in general forget even splitting up the program itself further than 4-8 cores just pulling the OS out of the equation is gonna be one of the bigger reliefs

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