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MIT Genius Stuffs 100 Processors Into Single Chip

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Anant Agarwal

MIT's Anant Agarwal

Credit: Eric Smalley/Wired

Anant Agarwal, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, recently launched Tilera, a company that specializes in squeezing cores onto computer chips.

Tilera grew out of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and MIT project RAW, which produced a prototype 16-core chip in 2002. The Tilera researchers aimed to combine a processor with a communications switch, known as a tile, which are built together to create a mesh network. The Tilera system resulted in a 64-core chip that handles more transactions and consumes less power than an equivalent set of x86 chips.

The 400-watt Tilera server can replace eight x86 servers that together draw 2,000 watts. Tilera also is boosting the performance of its cores, as the most recent generation of data center server chips are 64-bit processors that run at 1.2 to 1.5 GHz.

Tilera is part of a growing effort to reinvent servers for the Internet age. Intel also is developing many-core chips, focusing on a specialized 50-core processor, known as Knights Corner, which will be an accelerator for supercomputers. Knights Corner is optimized for floating point operations. Meanwhile, Agarwal also is leading the Angstrom project, an MIT effort to develop a chip with 1,000 cores.

From Wired News
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