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Intel predicts multi-core processors

John-Paul Kamath

The number of computing engines on microprocessor will increase rapidly, with hundreds appearing on a single chip, Intel's top technology expert has predicted.

Patrick Gelsinger, general manager of Intel's digital enterprise group, said Intel was preparing to develop chips built around hundreds of computing engines, rather than two to four in current chip designs.

Chips like these could help in medical applications and tomography which requires 3D models of patients. Speeding the rendering time could speed diagnoses, he said.

Office-based applications like speech recognition could replace typing input and use the improved processing power to deliver more interactive software to users. "It becomes immersive, intuitive," said Gelsinger.

However, for businesses to take advantage of many-core computing they will need to develop new programming languages to interface with more complex processors.

Gelsinger said the miniaturisation of chips for devices such as mobile phones would also bring PC-style software to more mobile devices.

Intels’ x86 chip architecture will increasingly be pushed into cellphones and consumer products. The biggest obstacle in designing chips for mobiles is their high power consumption, he said.

Intel will have to work fast in the mobile market. Apple said last month it would use technology from PA Semi to make chips for the iPhone. Gelsinger was disappointed with the decision but hoped to win back business from Apple. “People haven’t been lining up outside. We have to go earn this business,” he said.

Intel will develop chips with a focus on internet connectivity. Its aim is to give every person on the planet internet access 24 hours a day, Gelsinger said. “You will be interacting with the computing experience without ever thinking of it,” he said.

Intel is moving to use a new generation of the silicon wafers which would cut the average cost of producing each chip by 40%, said Gelsinger.

Chip companies unable to spend at least $1 billion on designing new types of chips would be unable to keep pace with Moore’s law, which states that the capabilities of chips double every year or two.

“Our task now before us is to crack terascale computing at everybody’s desktop level,” he said. “It’s not going to happen with a broad range of programmers. We need a new language to abstract those problems from the users.”



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