Intel aims to cut CPU power consumption by 99.7%

Intel’s CTO Justin Rattner has closed the 2011 Intel Developer Forum by setting an ambitious target – a three-hundred-fold reduction in power consumption for multi-core systems over the next ten years.

Rattner explained that the cut would be necessitated by the rise of ever more powerful “many-core” systems – Intel’s phrase for processors designed with a focus on parallelism rather than single-core performance.

He pointed out that the industry has, in just five years, gone from the introduction of dual-core processors to a market filled with CPUs offering as many as twelve cores. He joked that, if that trend were to continue without reductions in power consumption, in ten years “I’d have to buy you each a nuclear power station”.

Rattner pledged ‘a decade-long effort to take computing to new extreme of energy efficiency and performance.’Uses of many-core computing

Rattner demonstrated a range of applications showing the potential of many-core computing. Andrzej Nowak, a researcher from CERN, joined Rattner on stage to reveal that the Large Hadron Collider makes use of 25,000 Intel processing cores.

Brendan Eich, Mozilla CTO and inventor of JavaScript, later joined Rattner to sing the praises of Intel’s parallelism extensions to JavaScript, dubbed River Trail. Intel researcher Tatiana Shpeisman demonstrated how River Trail could massively accelerate web-based applications on multi-core systems.

Rattner also demonstrated a functioning LTE telecoms base station running on a desktop PC in software, and a live encryption system based on facial recognition involving – in the words of one engineer – “an egregious amount of cryptography”.

To accommodate future developments, Rattner pledged “a decade-long effort to take computing to new extreme of energy efficiency and performance.”

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