Intel, IBM Keep Breaking Processor Barriers

Arthur Cole

We all knew that multicore processing was going to be the wave of the future, but it's still surprising how fast the future comes up on you. Even as quad-core devices take their first baby steps, Intel rolls out the prototype of an 80-core chip that pushes the processing capacity into the terebyte stratosphere.


The only caveats are that it is not compatible with existing Intel designs, and there is the little problem of exactly how to develop applications for it -- a point that Gordon Haff, principal IT advisor with Illuminata, drove home in a recent interview with IT Business Edge. But Intel is certain those problems are workable and that a commercial model could be available within five years.


Meanwhile, IBM is busy re-engineering its processors with DRAM, a move that is said to reduce the memory cache requirements by about a third compared to existing SRAM designs. The newest 65nm chips will feature DRAM, as will the future 45nm models.


In the meantime, though, IBM is laying its cards on the Power6 table, which the company touts as the solution of choice for both traditional servers and blades. It sees support for 64-chip designs as the answer, in terms of both processing and energy conservation, over rival designs by Intel, AMD and Sun.


It's funny how a few short years ago most pundits were lamenting the end of Moore's Law and the ultimate end of the computer industry's ability to break any new barriers. It just goes to show you that the end may truly be nigh, but a new beginning is usually just around the corner.

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