The Value of the 80-Core Chip: Better Video Games

Loraine Lawson

Have you ever said to yourself, "Self, 80-core chips sound cool and everything, but what's the point?"


If you have, then, boy, have I found the blog post for you.


Jerry Bautista, the director of Intel's Microprocessor Research Laboratory, addressed just this question on Research@Intel this week. It seems you, me and my dog, Missy, weren't the only ones tilting our heads to go, "Uh?" after Intel announced its 80-core chip in the spring.


His answer? Duh! Think of the video games. Quoths Bautista:

Certainly a physically realistic game could consume every compute resource available, providing enjoyment to those of us finished with chores or a hard day of work. There is almost a visceral draw to those games where momentum is conserved in collisions, smoke is generated not just by an opaque, fuzzy "ball" but rather a simulated flame with temperature gradients and the resultant, seemingly random buoyancy effects and smoke eddies that makes watching a fire a pleasurable experience.

That's a pretty fancy way of saying "better video games," but from where I sit, that's how it reads.


Okay, I'm being a bit unfair. He also points out that that 80 core can be used for physical modeling, tera-scale applications and, if you're a business, 80-core chips will yield a mouthful of possibilities he describes with "real time decision support for complex optimization models supported by large database searches are also compelling apps that benefit from high levels of parallel execution and would have immediate application."


And if that's not enough to convince you to upgrade all your computers, plus buy new, redesigned software, Bautista includes a video showing what these chips can do for a glass of virtual water.


I'm, like, 95 percent sure that 60+ core chips are the future and will be well worth the upgrade, once the software development catches up.


But even the dog agrees with me on this: The 80-core chip business case definitely needs more work.

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