Tile is the next hot multicore chip design

Chip researchers at an industry conference Monday explained ways to do parallel computing in processors for better performance and energy efficiency.

Knowing that there's a limit to how many cores can be put on a chip, processor designers are looking to a tiled architecture as the next generation of chip design.

The agenda of the 19th annual Hot Chips conference going on this week at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, includes presentations from different chip companies on parallel computing using a tiled, or grid design.

Tiles, each with a processor core and a router, are laid end to end and in rows, looking like a grid map of a city. Instructions jump from tile to tile along their route back and forth across the chip. Different instructions can run parallel to each other simultaneously without having to wait for one another. Parallel computing uses less energy than do today's multicore chips.

Intel detailed a prototype 80-core processor made up of tiles laid out eight across and 10 down. Intel's chip also has a "sleep/wake" function that turns off power to some tiles when they are idle and wakes them up when they are needed, principal engineer at Intel, Yatin Hoskote, said.

Parallelism makes it possible to run a communication instruction concurrently with a computational instruction, he said.

"You get a lot more concurrency. If you can overlap computation with communications as much as possible then you get a high level of efficiency because you are not spending cycles just communicating, you are using computation cycles to send data out onto the chip," Hoskote said.

The sleep feature reduces leakage (electrical power that's wasted when it doesn't do any computing) two to five times better than existing designs, he said, and reduces energy consumption seven times better in each tile's router.

Intel's tiled processor prototype is just a research project, Hoskote said, with no immediate plans to develop a particular product out of it. But a chip industry newcomer, Tilera, used Hot Chips to unveil its first 64-core tiled processor, in which the tiles are arranged eight across and eight down.

The Tile64 product is an imbedded processor used in network routers and switches, and equipment for distributing high-definition video signals.

Nvidia, and AMD also described their parallel computing processors during their presentations at the conference.

Chip makers are studying parallel computing because they believe the trend of offering two-, four- or eight-core processors on a chipset will eventually reach its limit, a professor of computer science at the University of California at Berkeley and one of the event organisers, Alan Jay Smith, said.

"Everyone's got the same problem. They have got more real estate on the chip than they can usefully spend on a uniprocessor, and a uniprocessor runs very hot," Smith said. A uniprocessor is a computer with only one central processing unit. "Everyone is working on parallelism because ... you can built it now more effectively."

The downside of parallelism is that it's difficult to program software applications to run parallel instructions, he said.

"People think in a linear way. Most programs out there are linear. Converting the software into a parallel form where you can have computation going on in multiple processors at once is hard," Smith said.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert Mullins

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?