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IBM says Kilocore technology will outrun today's mobile processors



San Jose (CA) - If it's the number of cores that gets computers excited these days, then IBM may have its hands on the ultimate processor. Together with Rapport, a Silicon Valley startup, the company previewed the Kilocore1025, a processor with a total of 1025 cores that promises not only to boost processing speed but also to operate at low power levels.

Dual-core has become the standard in the microprocessor industry and manufacturers already have to dish out a quad-core announcement to create some waves. And while we already have heard that the next decade may bring processors with dozens or even hundreds of cores on one die, it is still science-fiction we are talking about.

But according to IBM, processors with massive concentrations of individual cores may not be that far away as we thought. Rapport and IBM, both members of Power.org, today provided a glimpse at the design of the Kilocore1025 at the Embedded Systems Conference in San Jose. The blueprint showed a central PowerPC that was complemented by 1024 (that is one thousand and twenty four) 8-bit "processing elements" on a single and - according to IBM - low-cost die.

Rapport is already offering the Kilocore256, which comes with 256 processing elements and provides a performance of "25 GB operations/second at well under a single watt of power," IBM said. The firm claims that the Kilocores "feature the most advanced, dynamic architecture available today in working silicon" and imagines that the chips could be built into "compute-intensive applications, including mobile gaming, homeland security, server components, image processing, consumer electronics and suitcase supercomputing."

There were few details on how fast the Kilocore1025 may be, but IBM claims that the processor will enable a user "to view streaming live- and high-definition video on a low-power, mobile device at five to 10 times the speed of existing processors."

IBM and Rapport expect the new processor architecture to bring "disruptive solutions" to the low-power computing marketplace. Within the collaboration, Rapport will contribute its software and its Kilocore technology, while IBM adds engineering resources as well as foundry and ASIC technologies.

The two firms did not say when the technology may be ready for market introduction.

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