MIT creates 36-core processor powered by a mini internet

MIT researchers have today unveiled a prototype 36-core computing chip that dwarfs the dual-core or quad-core units found in the majority of computers, tablets and smartphones today. The chip works by utilizing a system dubbed 'network-on-a-chip', which enables data to pass between cores more quickly and efficiently than with the typical bus layouts of today.

The team explains on the MIT News blog how on a typical multi-core processor all data flows through a single wire. Only one core can communicate at a time and eventually, as the number of cores grows, it is found that they end up spending more time waiting for access to the bus to transfer data than they do actually processing.

In the new 'network-on-a-chip' design, the cores are arranged in a tiled grid layout and connected directly to adjacent cores. This means that data can travel across the chip over many different, varying paths to avoid cores that are busy or congested. The processor as a whole can operate much more efficiently.

However, an issue with the network-on-a-chip concept is that data could arrive at cores through many different, untraceable paths. This is a problem as sometimes cores on a processor need to access data stored in another core's cache before it is returned to the main memory.

The issue has been overcome by equipping the chip with a shadow network that allows cores to declare they are looking for a data packet in the same way that bus-powered chips normally do. The 36 cores on the chip are all assigned a priority to simulate the chronological ordering of requests found on bus layouts. You can read more about the specifics of the technology on the MIT site.

Although we won't be seeing our computers powered by 36-core processors for some time, the team intends to modify a version of Linux to run on their chip and see what actual applications operate like on this CPU architecture design. Afterwards, the blueprints will be released to the world as open-source hardware descriptor code for anybody to pick up and use.

Source: MIT

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You've been able to buy an OTS chip with 120 cores or something ridiculous for years now.
'MIT researchers have today unveiled a prototype 36-core computing chip that dwarfs the dual-core or quad-core units found in the majority of computers'
Utter garbage, more processors/cores does not give an overall huge increase in performance. Not to mention the CPU developed here is NOT x86 instruction set compatible - it is simply no-where near the performance of an intel or AMD or even VIA chip and to suggest otherwise shows a clear lack of understanding of basic computing knowledge.

EDIT: Here's the chip with 144 cores on it. http://www.greenarraychips.com/

n_K said,
You've been able to buy an OTS chip with 120 cores or something ridiculous for years now.
'MIT researchers have today unveiled a prototype 36-core computing chip that dwarfs the dual-core or quad-core units found in the majority of computers'
Utter garbage, more processors/cores does not give an overall huge increase in performance. Not to mention the CPU developed here is NOT x86 instruction set compatible - it is simply no-where near the performance of an intel or AMD or even VIA chip and to suggest otherwise shows a clear lack of understanding of basic computing knowledge.

EDIT: Here's the chip with 144 cores on it. http://www.greenarraychips.com/

This isn't about how many cores they can fit on a chip, it's about a different way of transferring data to each core like the article points out.

Why couldn't it? The design has been used before, but in much larger computers (specifically, the Cray X-MP and Y-MP, and the original Tesla supercomputer). The real problem is designing firmware and an operating system for such a processor.

Heck.. For last Six years, my Core 2 Quad is still waiting for enough work load so that it can justify the word out dated and I can look for a new CPU !!!

Choto Cheeta said,
Heck.. For last Six years, my Core 2 Quad is still waiting for enough work load so that it can justify the word out dated and I can look for a new CPU !!!

You just don't know how to use it yet :p

Choto Cheeta said,
Heck.. For last Six years, my Core 2 Quad is still waiting for enough work load so that it can justify the word out dated and I can look for a new CPU !!!

I max my Quad Cores and Hex Cores all the time. It's good for them.

NastySasquatch said,

I max my Quad Cores and Hex Cores all the time. It's good for them.

Its good for me, since in last 6/7 years, only thing that failed was my motherboard and being few generation behind, it was cheap to get a 775 based board along with platform upgrade of DDR3 RAM's and a cheaper 9600 Card :D

It saved me a lot and seems that it will still go strong for a year or two :D

Choto Cheeta said,

Its good for me, since in last 6/7 years, only thing that failed was my motherboard and being few generation behind, it was cheap to get a 775 based board along with platform upgrade of DDR3 RAM's and a cheaper 9600 Card :D

It saved me a lot and seems that it will still go strong for a year or two :D

I run a lot of processor intensive stuff, and I've never actually failed a CPU. It's always a cap or a trace on the motherboard that goes. I think the only time I failed a CPU was a 486 that had degraded performance all the way down to like 24 MHz. But it still operated just REALLY slow.