Intel experimental processor adapts to environmental challenges on the fly

New microprocessor delivers 41 per cent more throughput, chipmaker claims

Intel’s research labs have prototyped a resilient microprocessor that delivers as much as 41% more throughput using the same amount of energy as a comparable conventional core.

If applied to commercial processors, this resilient/adaptive design would, under ideal conditions, deliver better than guaranteed throughput, says Keith Bowman, a researcher at Intel’s Circuit Research Laboratories. “It would result in higher performance from a chip rated for a lower performance,” Bowman says.Under less than ideal conditions - marked by power dips, temperature changes and aging transistors - this miserly design would optimize performance and deliver guaranteed throughput more efficiently than would cores that adhere to conventional architectures.

This self-tuning by means of built-in error detection and correction eats up cycles but not as many as would be eaten up by the conventional method that relies on cycle-wasting buffers called guardbands. The net result is more efficient processing. “We think it’s a great tradeoff,” Bowman says.Intel researchers are now developing prototypes that expand the scale of the error detection and correction, and are determining what kind of impact these adaptive cores would have on commercial processors that might someday use them, he says. While promising, the technology is not yet on the formal path to being incorporated in commercial products, he says.

Today’s microprocessor cores are designed to perform at guaranteed levels regardless of fluctuations in temperature and voltage that they might face. They are also designed to hit those performance levels over a specified lifecycle by taking into account the expected material degradation that takes place over time, Bowman says.

To meet these performance guarantees chip makers build in guardbands that provide reserve cycles that ensure the delivery of specified throughput even in worst case scenarios where voltage, temperature and aging parameters actually do hurt performance. As a result, conventional processors use more power for lower throughput than they would without guardbands, he says.

The Intel prototype core includes adaptive circuits that eliminate guardbands. Instead, these circuits detect errors caused by the voltage, temperature and aging factors and correct for them on the fly without requiring reserve cycles. That results in either maximized throughput or minimized energy requirements that in either case outstrip performance of conventional processors, he says.

These adaptive circuits do expend resources, but less than would be tied up with guardbands because variations that affect performance are relatively infrequent. Over time it is more efficient to spend the cycles as needed than to keep guardbands all the time.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intelenergy efficiencymicroprocessors

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Tim Greene

Network World
Show Comments

Father’s Day Gift Guide

Brand Post

PC World Evaluation Team Review - MSI GT75 TITAN

"I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it."

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

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.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?