Intel shows off 48-core PC

Intel has been strutting its stuff in a CeBIT briefing on future technology, by showing an experimental ‘single-chip cloud computer’ boasting a 48-core processor.

Click on the gallery button, left, to see photos of the 48-core PC

Fitted in a standard PC case blinged out with a transparent side and blue lights, the 48-core PC wasn’t at the stage of running Windows. But Intel did show a live, continually updated demo of each core’s load, along with a readout of the power consumption of the chip, which hovered around a mere 75W.

Engineers were tight-lipped about the details, but we did manage to establish that all 48 cores are IA capable, which should mean they are able to run standard x86 programs. The cores are arranged in an experimental mesh-interconnect scheme, allowing the system to segment resources to run a separate OS on each core, or conversely work together to run a single operating system in the usual way.

It won’t be hitting the high street in the near future, though. Look closely at the photos of the machine, particularly the shot of the rear, and you can see that the 48-core PC isn’t quite ready for prime time. No graphics card or any of the standard PC fittings are visible – the machine has an entirely custom motherboard purely aimed at research rather than running real applications.

Even so, it’s a considerable advance on the 80-core chip Intel showed off only a few years ago, at IDF Beijing 2007. It transpired that each of those cores was little more than a pocket calculator rather than a full x86 processor core.

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