The core is the part of a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) which reads and executes instructions. Originally, computers were developed with only one core processor but, today, processors with two, four or even sixteen cores are commonplace.
However, Dr Wim Vanderbauwhede and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Lowell have created a processor which effectively contains more than a thousand cores on a single chip.
To do this, the scientists used a chip called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which like all microchips contains millions of transistors – the tiny on-off switches which are the foundation of any electronic circuit.
The researchers then used the chip to process an algorithm which is central to the MPEG movie format – used in YouTube videos – at a speed of five gigabytes per second: around 20 times faster than current top-end desktop computers.
There was the RAMP Blue v3.0 rack, with 21 BEE2s, each with 48 cores, for a total of 1008 MicroBlaze cores in late 2007. This took a whole rack of servers.
This is very early proof-of-concept work where we’re trying to demonstrate a convenient way to program FPGAs so that their potential to provide very fast processing power could be used much more widely in future computing and electronics.
“While many existing technologies currently make use of FPGAs, including plasma and LCD televisions and computer network routers, their use in standard desk-top computers is limited.
“However, we are already seeing some microchips which combine traditional CPUs with FPGA chips being announced by developers, including Intel and ARM.
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