Intel Makes Single Chip Cloud Computer with 48-Cores

Intel’s 48-core Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC) processor (Credit: Intel)

Intel on Wednesday demonstrated a fully programmable 48-core processor it thinks will pave the way for massive data computers powerful enough to do more of what humans can. (H/T Sander Olson)

The 1.3-billion transistor processor, called Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC) is successor generation to the 80-core “Polaris” processor that Intel’s Tera-scale research project produced in 2007. Unlike that precursor, though, the second-generation model is able to run the standard software of Intel’s x86 chips such as its Pentium and Core models.

The name “Single-chip Cloud Computer” reflects the fact that the architecture resembles a scalable cluster of computers such as you would find in a cloud, integrated into silicon.

The research chip features:
* 24 “tiles” with two IA cores per tile
* A 24-router mesh network with 256 GB/s bisection bandwidth
* 4 integrated DDR3 memory controllers
* Hardware support for message-passing

EETimes discusses the new direction that Intel is taking on its terascale chip efforts

In the future, Intel’s so-called “single-chip cloud computer” processor could enable PCs to use “vision” to interact with people.

Intel is taking a more mainstream approach to this multicore effort by going the x86-based route. Intel has nicknamed this test chip a “single-chip cloud computer” because it resembles the organization of datacenters used to create a “cloud” of computing. Cloud datacenters are comprised of tens to thousands of computers connected by a physically cabled network, distributing large tasks and massive datasets in parallel.

The long-term research goal for Intel’s new device is to add scaling features that spur new software applications and human-machine interfaces. Intel plans to build 100 or more experimental chips for use by dozens of industrial and academic research collaborators. The goal is to develop new software applications and programming models for future multicore processors.

This prototype device itself contains of 48 programmable processing cores. It also includes a high-speed, on-chip network for sharing information along with new power management techniques. The on-chip network technology was also present on Polaris, Rattner said.

With a chip like this, you could imagine a cloud datacenter of the future which will be an order of magnitude more energy efficient than what exists today, saving significant resources on space and power costs,” said Rattner. “Over time, I expect these advanced concepts to find their way into mainstream devices, just as advanced automotive technology such as electronic engine control, air bags and anti-lock braking eventually found their way into all cars.”

Intel Labs has created an experimental “Single-chip Cloud Computer,” (SCC) a research microprocessor containing the most Intel Architecture cores ever integrated on a silicon CPU chip – 48 cores. It incorporates technologies intended to scale multi-core processors to 100 cores and beyond, such as an on-chip network, advanced power management technologies and support for “message-passing.”

Architecturally, the chip resembles a cloud of computers integrated into silicon. The novel many-core architecture includes innovations for scalability in terms of energy-efficiency including improved core-core communication and techniques that enable software to dynamically configure voltage and frequency to attain power consumptions from 125W to as low as 25W.

This represents the latest achievement from Intel’s Tera-scale Computing Research Program. The research was co-led by Intel Labs Bangalore, India, Intel Labs Braunschweig, Germany and Intel Labs researchers in the United States.

Other Supercomputing News

EETimes reports that Cray Inc. has announced three European partners for a new program aimed at delivering by the end of the decade a supercomputer capable of performing an exaflop, a quintillion calculations per second