Intel chip shows the feasibility of building processors with 1000 cores, an Intel researcher has asserted. The architecture for the Intel 48-core Single Chip Cloud Computer (SCC) processor is “arbitrarily scalable,” said Intel researcher Timothy Mattson, at Supercomputer 2010.
“Only after 1000 cores or so, the diameter of the mesh, or the on-chip network connecting the many cores, will grow to such an extent that it would negatively impact performance,” Mattson said.
Designed by Intel’s TeraScale Research Program over past several years, the chip itself is an experimental one and isn’t on the Intel product road map, Mattson said. A limited number of copies have been distributed to researchers and developers so they can build development tools for the design.
The chip, first fabricated with a 45-nanometer process at Intel facilities about a year ago, is actually a 6-by-4 array of tiles, each tile containing two cores. It has more than 1.3 billion transistors and consumes from 25 to 125 watts.
For simplicity’s sake, the team used an off-the-shelf 1994-era Pentium processor design for the cores themselves. “Performance on this chip isn’t interesting,” Mattson said. It uses a standard x86 instruction set.