A 1,000 core processor powered by a AA battery. It’s not science fiction: graduate students at the University of California in Davis designed such a processor, and IBM fabricated it using a 32-nanometer process. It’s likely the fastest processor designed at a university, Endgadget is reporting.
The chip, which contains 621 million transistors, is capable of 1.78 trillion instructions per second. Even cooler, the cores communicate directly with each other, meaning there’s no bottleneck of shared memory slowing everything down. Unused cores are capable of turning themselves off, helping a great deal with power management.
This means that, under the right conditions, this processor can run using only the power from a AA battery. For example, the 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts.
“To the best of our knowledge, it is the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university,” said Bevan Baas, professor of electrical and computer engineering at University of California, Davis.
Each individual processor can run a separate program, which could help break applications into small pieces and increase performance and lower energy usage. Individual cores run at an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 GHz.
It all adds up to the most energy-efficient “many-core” design ever reported, according to Baas.
Don’t expect to buy the processor anytime soon, as only one has been made. And even if you get your hands on one, don’t expect to run many programs on it. The team has made a custom compiler, and a few applications for video processing and encryption, but not much else.
Still, it’s a pretty remarkable achievement. The team behind the processor includes graduate students Aaron Stillmaker, Jon Pimentel, Timothy Andreas, Bin Liu, Anh Tran and Emmanuel Adeagbo.