Intel to lay out supercomputing chip plans

Intel is targeting specialized "many-core" chips for supercomputers.

Intel on Tuesday provided more color to its plans for supercomputing chips that would eventually compete with offerings from Nvidia. Intel said it will provide further details next week at a supercomputing conference.

In the wake of Intel's cancelation of the "Larrabee" graphics chip project in December of last year, Intel is now focusing on an analogous project targeted at supercomputers, a market that is generally referred to as high-performance computing or HPC.

"We are...executing on a business opportunity derived from the Larrabee program and Intel research in many-core chips," Bill Kircos, an Intel spokesman said Tuesday, writing in a blog posted on Intel's Web site.

"This server product line expansion is optimized for...segments such as high-performance computing," he wrote. Intel Vice President Kirk Skaugen will provide further details next week at ISC 2010 in Germany.

Kircos reiterated that Intel has no plans to bring out a discrete graphics chip like the Larrabee chip for gaming PCs. "We will not bring a discrete graphics product to market, at least in the short-term," he wrote.

But the prospect of a many-core chip from Intel is intriguing, as this is a market graphics chip supplier Nvidia is targeting in a big way with its Tesla products .

In December of last year, Intel said it had reached a "milestone" with an experimental 48-core chip. "It has 48 cores hooked together in a network that mimics cloud computing on a chip level, and supports highly parallel 'scale-out' programming models," Intel said in December.

The chipmaker said at that time that it would build "100 or more experimental chips for use by dozens of industrial and academic research collaborators around the world." The goal is to develop new software applications and programming models for future many-core processors, the company said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.

 

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