Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Intel's Cloud Computer on a Chip

Last week in the GCaP class, I underscored how important it is to "look out the window" and keep an eye on what is happening in the marketplace, because some of those developments may eventually impact capacity planning in your shop. Here's a good example:

This Intel processor (code named "Rock Creek") integrates 48 IA-32 cores, 4 DDR3 memory channels, and a voltage regulator controller in a 6×4 2D-mesh network-on-chip architecture. Located at each mesh node is a five-port virtual cut-through packet switched router shared between two cores. Core-to-core communication uses message passing while exploiting 384KB of on-die shared memory. Fine grain power management takes advantage of 8 voltage and 28 frequency islands to allow independent DVFS of cores and mesh. At the nominal 1.1V, cores operate at 1GHz while the 2D-mesh operates at 2GHz. As performance and voltage scales, the processor dissipates between 25W and 125W. The 567 sq-mm processor die is implemented in 45nm Hi-K CMOS and has 1,300,000,000 transistors.
The "cloud" reference is a marketing hook, but note that it uses a 2D mesh interconnect topology (like we discussed in class), contains 1.3 billion transistors with the new Hafnium metal gate (as we discussed in class), and produces up to 125 watts of heat.

The details of this processor were presented at the annual ISSCC meeting in San Francisco, February 2010.

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