Pouring Resources into Tera

By John G. Spooner  |  Posted 2006-03-09 Print this article Print

-Scale"> Meanwhile, Intel is pouring a tremendous amount of resources into the effort. About 40 percent of the researchers in its Corporate Technology Group, which include its Microprocessor Technology Lab, its Communications Technology Lab and Systems Technology Lab, and about 900 researchers, are working on some 80 projects involving Tera-Scale Computing.

Those projects could be interwoven in many ways to support the project. A chip with many, many cores would need a very big pipeline for data. Intel researchers are working on Silicon Photonics, a project that involves building optical connections into silicon using standard manufacturing techniques.
The project, which the company has said is targeted at chip-to-chip connections, could present one avenue for creating pipelines to keep the chip flush with data.
Meanwhile, inside the MTL, researchers are designing new TCP/IP processing cores and new types of memories, including configurable caches, 3-D stacked memory and high-bandwidth memory. Researchers are also advocating for transactional memory, which coordinates multiple threads accessing the same memory versus todays approach of locking it for use one thread at a time. Click here to read more about Intels chip manufacturing plans. Intels labs are also working on new types of transistors which are smaller, faster and more efficient, in addition to techniques that would allow two different chip wafers to be glued together, creating the ability to tightly pair processors and memory in a way that resembles an Oreo cookie. The new approach is unlikely to be rolled out all at once. An intermediate phase in which some of the features of Tera-Scale Computing are pulled forward in the less-distant future. Given its customarily conservative nature, Intels likely already working on a many-core chip that would bridge the gap between its current architectural approach and one of Tera-Scale computing. McVeigh declined to discuss any such efforts, but did not deny their existence. Chips with many-cores are at least six or eight years out, said Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report, in an interview with eWEEK. However, he said Tera-Scale-style chips could change the landscape of chip design. "Theres lots of re-architecting that could be done," Krewell said. "If you have the right software, say, a function can be taken out of main CPU and diverted off to a dedicated piece of hardware. "Once you get more sophisticated scheduling, a processor can make the decision… it can decide then [data] is going off to an accelerator." Next Page: Making the chips.

John G. Spooner John G. Spooner, a senior writer for eWeek, chronicles the PC industry, in addition to covering semiconductors and, on occasion, automotive technology. Prior to joining eWeek in 2005, Mr. Spooner spent more than four years as a staff writer for CNET News.com, where he covered computer hardware. He has also worked as a staff writer for ZDNET News.

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