Behold: The World’s First 1,000 Processor Chip


Image: Baas et al
Image: Baas et al
Engineers at the University of California at Davis have built the world’s first „KiloCore“ chip. Featuring 1,000 independently programmable processors, the chip, which was presented this week at the 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits, is capable of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors. The partially Department of Defense-funded KiloCore chip was ultimately built by IBM using existing 32 nanometer semiconductor fabrication technology.

By Michael Byrne | MOTHERBOARD

Unfortunately, a 1,000 core chip isn’t something that could just be plugged into the next line of MacBook Pros. It wouldn’t even really suffice as a graphics processor, where massively parallel computation is the norm. In fact, many GPUs exceed the 1,000 cores of the UC Davis chip, but with the caveat that the individual cores are directed according to a central controller. The KiloCore, by contrast, is built from completely independent cores capable of running completely independent computer programs.

That makes for an intense architecture requiring specialized programming. Writing a program that can take advantage of such a huge array of cores means not just dissecting that program into many, many small computations, but also ensuring that those computations don’t depend the results of other computations other to properly execute. Managing this problem is the essence of truly parallel programming.

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