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Researchers Build 1,000-Core Processor

A team of Scottish researchers says they have stuffed 1,000 cores on a single chip that has performed tasks 20 times faster than today’s top-end desktop computer.

The team from the University of Glasgow in Scotland built the processor with the help of scientists from the University of Massachusetts in Lowell. Team leader Wim Vanderbauwhede plans to present the research at the International Symposium on Applied Reconfigurable Computing in March.

Researchers built the chip using an integrated circuit called a field-programmable gate array. As implied in the name, the integrated circuit is designed to be configured by the customer in the field, as opposed to being hardwired during the manufacturing process.

The FPGA enabled Vanderbauwhede to divide up the millions of transistors within the chip into 1,000 mini-circuits, or cores, with each working on it own instruction set. Transistors are the tiny on-off switches that are the foundation of an electronic circuit.

The researchers used the chip to process an algorithm that is central to the MPEG movie format, which is used in YouTube videos. The chip processed the algorithm at a speed of 5 GB per second, roughly 20 times faster than the fastest desktop computer.


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