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Intel: Why a 1,000-Core Chip Is Feasible.

ZDNet UK (12/25/10) Jack Clark

Intel has developed experimental chips with 48 and 80 cores through its Terascale Computing Research Program. At the Supercomputing Conference 2010, Intel’s Timothy Mattson claimed that the Terascale Program’s 48-core chip could theoretically scale to 1,000 cores. The 48-core chip’s architecture could support 1,000 cores because Intel does not have cache coherency overhead, Mattson says. “The challenge this presents to those of us in parallel computing at Intel is, if our [fabrication department] could build a 1,000-core chip, do we have an architecture in hand that could scale that far?” he says. “And if built, could that chip be effectively programmed?” Mattson says that there is no theoretical limit to the number of cores that can be used, but the number of cores does depend on how much of the program can be parallelized, and how much overhead and load imbalance a program can uphold. He says a key question is whether there are usage models and applications that need that many cores. “As I see it, my job is to understand how to scale out as far as our fabs will allow and to build a programming environment that will make these devices effective,” Mattson says. “I leave it to others in our applications research groups and our product groups to decide what number and combination of cores makes the most sense.”

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