Intel Keeps Up with

By Scott Ferguson  |  Posted 2007-02-11 Print this article Print

Moores Law with 45-Nanometer Manufacturing"> This development is important since it coincided with Intels announcement that it had achieved a 45-nanometer manufacturing process that kept the company in line with Moores Law, which states that the number of transistors on a circuit board will double each year. The increasing number of transistors that can fit onto a piece of silicon allows a number of smaller cores to rest on the chip without increasing the overall area. Each tile core is made of a compute element and a router. These routers, which control the flow of information to and from the core, contain five ports, which allow information to be shifted in and out at 80GB per second.
This grid design then creates a mesh that Intel calls "network-on-a-chip" architecture, which allows very high bandwidth communications between each core within the processor. This allows the cores to move terabits of information per second between them.
Finally, Intel researchers were also able to create a modular clocking scheme that allows elements within each of the individual tile cores—the FP engine, the data memory and the router—to power down and save on energy. The technology allows the cores, depending on the type of application the system is running, to wake or sleep on demand. This will allow each chip to deliver performance of 16 gigaflops per watt. The 80-core chip can run at 3.16GHz, while processing a little more than 1 teraflop of information and using only 62 watts. It would take less than 1 volt of electricity to power this chip. If the number of volts is increased, to 1.2 for example, the processors clock speed would increase to 5.1GHz and give the chip 1.63 teraflops of performance. The thermal envelope would increase to 175 watts. The next part of the research process, according to Bautista, will be to develop three-dimensional stacked memory. The memory will be placed on top of the processor for heat reasons, according to Bautista. For Kay, some of the questions left unanswered about the 80-core chip include what researchers intend to do in terms of providing cache memory and what will ultimately happen with the I/O. "What you do have is a chip that shows what you can do when you manufacture at the 65-nanometer level," Kay said. Still, Bautista and other researchers said this type of processor and technology can find practical applications in the real world. For example, it would help give greater performance to legacy applications that have never run on multithreaded chips or taken advantage of parallel computing. "Its something that can work reasonably well and we think that would be a pretty good approach," Bautista said. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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