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Intel to Ship Experimental Chips With 48 Cores

While we may be mightily impressed at the multiplying of cores in the hexacore Gulftown Core i7-980X, the octacore Nehalem-EX Xeon 7500 and the dodecacore AMD Magny-Cours Opteron 6000 series, Intel has something special up its sleeve that it is releasing in limited quantities – and it has 48 cores.

Intel's been testing an experimental 48-core CPU for some time, and it is now preparing to ship some of those to researchers by the end of the second quarter, according to IDG News Service. The chip will primarily be sent to academic institutions, but certain special features the chip could eventually find their way into commercial offerings.

For example, the 48-core chip features 24 small routers between the cores, which facilitate faster data exchanges across the chip. Each core also has on-chip buffers that can instantly exchange data in parallel across all the cores.

Intel also says that the 48-core chip has a more advanced on-die power management system that can vary the power draw between 25 watts to 125 watts. It can also reduce clock speed and shut down cores.

As far as clock speeds go, current desktop and even laptop offerings outpace this 48-core wonder. Intel revealed that its experimental chip runs at about the same frequencies as the Atom CPU, so we're looking in the neighbourhood of 1.2GHz to 1.83GHz.

Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.