Intel has unveiled a prototype 48-core processor.

Intel announced that company researchers demonstrated an experimental, 48-core processor--dubbed the "single-chip cloud computer"--that will supposedly pave the way for future generations of processors. According to the company, the "concept chip" is aimed at scaling on-chip performance, communication, and power consumption. The new prototype also offers 10 to 20 times the processing engines found in today's Intel Core processors.

Despite its many cores, Intel says that the futuristic prototype chip will consume the same amount of energy as two standard household light bulbs thanks to newly invented power management techniques.

Very cool, but unfortunately it's extremely difficult to write software that can effectively use so many processors. Some tasks can be parallelized very effectively, but many cannot, and those that can't won't see any advantage from processors with so many cores.

Moore's Law is still holding, but only at the aggregate level. Single processors aren't doubling in speed every 18 months anymore, but instead we are figuring out how to cram more cores onto the same chip. This results in an increase in processing power per chip, but multi-core processors are much more limited in what they can do than would be a single-core processor with the same total power.

(HT: LM.)

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