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by Mike Zazaian September 28, 2006 - 9:01am, 4 Comments

Intel's 80-core prototypes, equipped with TSV

Intel CEO Paul Otellini wowed the media at Intel’s Developer Forum with promises of an 80-core chip within five years, the innovation of connecting memory directly to processor cores could have a bigger impact on computing.

Using a process called Through Silicon Vias, or TSV, Intel has developed a prototype that marries processor cores directly with system memory, making for much faster overall computing. Otellini showcased TSV along side the 80-core chip prototypes, which piggyback 256MB of SRAM directly to each of the chip’s 80 cores.

As one of the largest bottlenecks in modern computing is the slow transfer between processors and memory, TSV would make for an enormous increase in overall system performance, likely even greater than the inclusion of 80 cores on a single die. Intel actually manufactured memory for a period in the early 80’s, but abandoned the business amid the boom in processor sales. Rather than manufacturing their own memory, however, Intel would likely partner up with memory manufacturers and sell the memory as a package deal with processor. Said Intel CTO Justin Rattner:

You could buy it as a block.

While TSV is still in its developmental stages, the technology represents a very real goal for Intel and its roadmap for future processors. As theSRAM used in TSV prototypes is too expensive to be commerically viable, researchers at Intel will have to find ways to use less expensive DRAM before TSV is taken out of its experimental phase.

[via cnet]