Scientists develop world’s first 1,000-processor microchip

The world the limit for processing as scientists from the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have created the world’s first microchip that has 1,000 processors that has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors and is thought to be the fastest ever chip designed in a university lab.

The energy-efficient “KiloCore” chip contains 621 million transistors, researchers said. If you compare it with world first integrated circuit board made in 1964 that had only 10 transistors, you can understand the technological advancement scientists have achieved with  “KiloCore.

“To the best of our knowledge, it is the world’s first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university,” said Bevan Baas, professor at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), who led the team that designed the chip architecture.

Invented by IBM using their 32nm CMOS technology, KiloCore chip’s each processor core can run its own small programme individually of the others. While other multiple-processor chips have been created, none exceed about 300 processors, researchers said. Most were created for research purposes and few are sold commercially.

“This is a fundamentally more flexible approach than so-called Single-Instruction-Multiple-Data approaches utilised by processors such as GPUs; the idea is to break an application up into many small pieces, each of which can run in parallel on different processors, enabling high throughput with lower energy use,” Baas said.

The idea is to break an application up into many small pieces, each of which can run in parallel on different processors, enabling high output with lower energy use, Baas said.

Graduate student Brent Bohnenstiehl, who developed the principal architecture, said that since each processor is independently clocked, it can shut itself down to further save energy when not needed.

Cores work at an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 GHz, and they transmit data directly to each other instead of using a pooled memory area that can become a block for data.

Baas said that the chip is the most energy-efficient “many-core” processor ever reported.

For instance, the 1,000 processors can perform 115 billion instructions per second while dispersing only 0.7 Watts, low enough to be powered by a single AA battery.

The KiloCore chip performs instructions more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor.

Applications already developed for the chip include wireless coding/decoding, video processing, encryption, and others concerning huge sums of parallel data such as data centre record processing and scientific data applications.

The team has finished a compiler and automatic programme mapping tools for use in programming the chip.

The KiloCore was recently presented at the 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu.