Chip manufacturer Intel has developed an experimental processor comprised of 48 cores, which it says will help researchers to develop software for highly distributed systems.
The company describes the new processor as a ‘single chip cloud computer’. It hopes that partners in industry and academia will use the device to advance ‘parallel programming’ techniques.
Such techniques allow software applications to use multiple processor cores at once. This is a critical endeavour for Intel, which is increasingly reliant on raising the number of cores within its chips – rather than improving the speed of each core – to deliver the performance enhancements the industry expects of it.
At the moment, however, parallel programming is notoriously difficult. Software applications produced today rarely take full advantage of the capabilities of parallel processing as a result.
In other chip news, the microprocessor was voted the most important innovation of the last 50 years in a poll by New Scientist.
“Today there is no industry and no human endeavour that hasn’t been touched by microprocessors or microcontrollers,” wrote Federico Faggin, part of the Intel team that developed the first commercical microprocessor in 1971, for the magazine.