Intel CTO: Computing's future in multicore machines

Intel CTO on the future of processors

For much of his 34 years at Intel, Justin R. Rattner has been a pioneer in parallel and distributed processing. His early ideas didn't catch on in the market, but the time has come for them now, he recently told Computerworld's Gary Anthes.

Are we at the end of the line for microprocessor clock speeds?

We'll see modest growth, 5% to 10% per generation. Power issues are so severe that there won't be any radical jumps. If you get a 2% improvement in clock speed but at a 5% increase in power consumption, that's not a favorable trade-off.

I keep reassuring Bill Gates that there is no magic transistor that is suddenly going to solve his problem, despite his strong desire for such a development.

What exactly is Gates worried about?

First, a steadily rising single-thread performance would benefit the entire existing base of software. Second, multicore and, later, many-core processors require a new generation of programming tools. Given the rudimentary state of parallel software, the investment across the entire computing industry will be very large. Third, the tools have to be applied by people with the skills needed to use them effectively. Retraining existing programmers and educating a new generation of developers coming out of school is another formidable challenge. It will take years, if not decades, to reach the point where virtually all programmers assume the default programming model is parallel rather than serial.

So the only way to keep Moore's Law going is to add more computing cores to a microprocessor chip?

The only way forward in terms of performance -- but we also think in terms of power -- is to go to multicores. Multicores put us back on the historical trajectory of Moore's Law. We can directly apply the increase in transistors to core count -- if you are willing to suspend disbelief for a moment that you can actually get all those cores working together.

How many cores might we see on a chip in five years?

We have been talking about terascale for the past couple of years, and we are demonstrating an 80-core [processor chip]. Our [future] product is Larrabee. It's not 80 cores; we can do things like that in research because we don't care how much it costs. Our hope is that that will stimulate software developers to bring terascale applications to market. We are talking about early production [of Larrabee] in 2009.

Join the newsletter!

Or
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.

Gary Anthes

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >

Mobile

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

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.

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?