Intel distributes 48-core processor to its partners

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Intel distributes 48-core processor to its partners
Intel will be delivering computers equipped with an x86 48-core processor by the second quarter of this year.

This processor is part of Intel's Terascale project, which will unfortunately not be available on the mass market. These processors are destined solely for Intel's partner organisations, and should be used in academic institutions and research laboratories to help Intel to develop the technologies involved to the point where stable operation of the chip can be achieved, and perhaps for a price that would bring it onto the consumer market.

With 48 cores operating at between 1.66 and 1.86 GHz each, the chip is part of the Intel's effort to produce a single chip with a computing power of 1 Teraflop. Originally this chip was planned to have 80 cores, but Intel has reduced the number to 48 in order to limit energy consumption and improve heat dissipation. The number of active cores is fully programmable, allowing any appropriately equipped software to select the number of cores to use after loading. This will allow the TDP to vary from anywhere between 25 to 125W.

Intel uses a mesh topology to connect the different elements of the processor, each core is connected to the cores around it with no central node. This helps to reduce problems if there is a communications failure, whilst optimising communication between active parts of the chip. Intel have placed 24 routers between the cores, which each contain two levels of cache and are able to exchange data directly with any other router on the chip. Each of these inter-router links has a bandwidth of 256GB/s. Finally, bandwidth for accessing external system memory should not be in short supply as the chip has 4 DDR3 memory controllers.

As with any new chip architecture, performance in current applications is still an unknown quantity, but it is hoped that this one will nonetheless be suitable for running Folding@Home calculations. This single chip could possess the power of a machine equipped with multiple Nehalem-EX's. Its potential performance on the Folding@Home front, then, is quite promising.

Source: Xbit Labs