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Scientists Squeeze More Than 1,000 Cores on to Computer Chip.

 University of Glasgow (United Kingdom) (12/29/10) Stuart Forsyth

A field programmable gate array (FPGA) chip has been used to create an ultra-fast 1,000-core computer processor. Researchers from the University of Glasgow and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell divided up the chip’s transistors into small groups and gave each a task to perform. The creation of more than 1,000 mini-circuits effectively turned the FPGA chip into a 1,000-core processor–each working with its own instructions. They used the FPGA chip to process an algorithm that is key to the MPEG movie format at 5 Gbps, or about 20 times faster than current top-end desktop computers. “FPGAs are not used within standard computers because they are fairly difficult to program, but their processing power is huge while their energy consumption is very small because they are so much quicker–so they are also a greener option,” says Glasgow’s Wim Vanderbauwhede. The researchers dedicated memory to each core to make the processor faster. “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,” Vanderbauwhede says.

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