Yummy: TeraFLOPS on a chip

New research prototype with 80 cores detailed by Intel CEO, who promises production versions within 5 years.

Today at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Intel today revealed a new research prototype processor with 80 floating point cores on a single die. Each core runs at 3.16 GHz, according to Justin Rattner, Intel’s chief technology officer. That’s 80 FPU cores at 3.16 GHz producing (let me do the math at about 0.2 milliFLOPS) 252.8 GHz!

The silicon die on this experimental chip, just 300mm2, is capable of achieving a teraFLOPS of performance, or 1 trillion floating point operations per second on a single chip. This is not to be confused with the marketing hype currently being spewed by Microsoft and Sony regarding their gaming consoles being able to pump out teraFLOPS (pure hype and funky math).

CEO Paul Otellini contrasted this with Intel’s historic breakthrough 11 years ago with the world’s first teraFLOPS supercomputer, a computational beast occupying 85 cabinets in 2,000+ square feet, powered by nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors. That computer, ASCI Red, was decommissioned this year by Sandia National Nuclear Security Administration, after nine years of use.Of interest is that despite its 10,000 processors, the system was able to average several hundred hours between hardware-caused interrupts, handily beating its design rating of 27 hours between meltdowns.

Otellini pledged to have a commercially available 80-core CPU within the next five years (with, presumably, much improved TTBM [Total Time Between Meltdowns])! That’s both comforting and shocking all in the same breath.

This week Intel announced quad core processors ready for market in November (named Core 2 Quad).

Intel CEO Paul Otellini holds a silicon wafer
Image courtesy of News.com (http://news.com.com/2300-1006_3-6119652.html)

Interesting Factoids:
Some interesting facts are that the KLAT2 supercomputer at the University of Kentucky cost about $640 per gigaFLOPS. This had fallen to $82/gigaFLOPS when the University of Kentucky installed the KASY0. If one considers the very specialized GPUs in ATI or NVidia video cards, a gigaFLOP today can be had for about $1.

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