Much of this morning’s coverage of Intel’s 80-core teraflop processor has focused on the chip’s capabilities – its ability to conduct trillions of calculations per second. At least as intriguing, from the data center perspective, is the energy efficiency Intel (INTC) has engineered into it:
Also remarkable is that this 80-core research chip achieves a teraflop of performance while consuming only 62 watts – less than many single-core processors today. The chip features an innovative tile design in which smaller cores are replicated as “tiles,” making it easier to design a chip with many cores. With Intel’s discovery of new and robust materials to build future transistors and no immediate end in sight for Moore’s Law, this lays a path to manufacture multi-core processors with billions of transistors more efficiently in the future. The Teraflop chip also features a mesh-like “network-on-a-chip” architecture allowing super high bandwidth communications between the cores, and capable of moving Terabits of data per second inside the chip. The research also investigated methods to power cores on and off independently, so only the ones needed to complete a task are used, providing more energy efficiency.
This is the kind of technology that can eventually alter the landscape for power loads in the data center. For now, it’s a fascinating research chip with capabilities that could be transformative when multiplied across a data center filled with servers. We’ll look forward to details about when and how these advances will materialize in commercial products. More info is available from Intel’s press center. Additional coverage and discussion at C/Net, Engadget, Gizmodo, Seeking Alpha and The New York Times.