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Hardware Technology

Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip 143

rtoz writes The more cores — or processing units — a computer chip has, the bigger the problem of communication between cores becomes. For years, Li-Shiuan Peh, the Singapore Research Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has argued that the massively multicore chips of the future will need to resemble little Internets, where each core has an associated router, and data travels between cores in packets of fixed size. This week, at the International Symposium on Computer Architecture, Peh's group unveiled a 36-core chip that features just such a "network-on-chip." In addition to implementing many of the group's earlier ideas, it also solves one of the problems that has bedeviled previous attempts to design networks-on-chip: maintaining cache coherence, or ensuring that cores' locally stored copies of globally accessible data remain up to date.
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Researchers Unveil Experimental 36-Core Chip

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  • Re:Moore's Law (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:09AM (#47297285)

    As an aside: It's been a while since we've seen any decent rise in processor Ghz.

    Just to abuse a car analogy: Maybe it's time we stop revving up and instead shift gears.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:22AM (#47297351) Journal
    A higher high/low voltage swing (with a reasonable amount of other stuff being equal) will be more of a thermal nuisance; but if the perks make up for it, that's hardly a dealbreaker. The toasty end of boring desktop CPUs is somewhere north of 200watts already, with a little shoving that they typically survive, so if somebody really wants 36 cache-coherent cores on-die, they'll suck it up and make it work.

    For applications that don't specifically demand that, I'd be interested to know how the costs and benefits of 'dealing with the cooling demands of a smaller number of denser parts' compare with 'dealing with the cooling demands of more, cooler, parts, closer to whatever the performance per watt sweet spot is; but with more cabling, PSUs, switches, and similar interconnect and support stuff to buy and power'...
  • Re:Moore's Law (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23, 2014 @09:46AM (#47297465)

    A better analogy is that they keep adding seats and making the whole vehicle slower.

    Kawasaki Ninja == 10GHZ single core (fastest way to get anywhere alone)
    Ford Mustang == 4GHz quad-core (most people only use the front two seats, but if desperate you can squeeze more people in)
    Chevy Suburban == 3.3 GHz 8-core (it seems like everyone wants one, but most people who have a full load just have a bunch of little kiddies)
    Mercedes Sprinter == 2.7 GHz 12-core (just meant to be a grinding people hauler)
    School Bus == 1.2GHz Xeon Phi (slow as hell and very specialized, no normal person would ever want one)
    Double Decker Bus == Peh's stuff (probably a use for mass transit(i.e virtualization) and as a cool novelty)

  • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Monday June 23, 2014 @12:37PM (#47298639)

    Banging my head on the table right now.

    Why do people with zero actual semiconductor knowledge try to speak as an authority*?!

    It's a research chip, meaning they don't need to be on the latest process node to show their proof of concept. Larger nodes (much cheaper to design a chip on) have thicker gate passivation layers and run at higher voltage. From an architecture standpoint the process node/voltage are irrelevant. So if their architecture proves out, some bigger outfit can run with it while targetting the latest-greatest itty-bitty process node to increase the clock-rate, drop the power, and reduce the area/price.

    *I am not a processor designer, just a mixed signal (mostly analog) guy, but I've been working in the semiconductor industry, including doing process bake-offs for over a dozen years.

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