[Beowulf] Tilera targets Intel, AMD with 100-core processor

Craig Tierney Craig.Tierney at noaa.gov
Mon Oct 26 09:48:28 EDT 2009


Anyone ever played with the current generation of chip?  What I saw from 
the website
for the current generation was:

- No Fortran
- No Floating point
- In its fastest configuration, a 2-socket Nehalem has about the same 
memory bandwidth

So unless your application sits in the on-core cache, I am wondering 
where the real benefit
is going to be (ignoring the fact that the processor is still PCI-e 
connected).

Craig

Eugen Leitl wrote:
> http://www.goodgearguide.com.au/article/323692
>
> Tilera targets Intel, AMD with 100-core processor
>
> Tilera hopes its new chips either replace or work alongside chips from Intel
> and AMD
>
> Agam Shah (IDG News Service) 26/10/2009 15:07:00
>
> Tags: Intel, CPUs, amd
>
> Tilera on Monday announced new general-purpose CPUs, including a 100-core
> chip, as it tries to make its way into the server market dominated by Intel
> and Advanced Micro Devices.
>
> The two-year-old startup's Tile-GX series of chips are targeted at servers
> and appliances that execute Web-related functions such as indexing, Web
> search and video search, said Anant Agarwal, cofounder and chief technology
> officer of Tilera, which is based in San Jose, California. The chips have the
> attributes of a general-purpose CPU as they can run the Linux OS and other
> applications commonly used to serve Web data.
>
> "You can run us as an adjunct to something else, though the intent is to be
> able to run it stand-alone," Agarwal said. The chips could serve as
> co-processors alongside x86 chips, or potentially replace the chips in
> appliances and servers.
>
> Chip makers are continuously adding cores as a way to boost application
> performance. Most x86 server chips today come with either four or six cores,
> but Intel is set to release the Nehalem-EX chip, an x86 microprocessor with
> eight cores. AMD will shortly follow with a 12-core Opteron chip code-named
> Magny Cours. Graphics processors from companies like AMD and Nvidia include
> hundreds of cores to run high-performance applications, though the chips are
> making their way into PCs.
>
> The Gx100 100-core chip will draw close to 55 watts of power at maximum
> performance, Agarwal said. The 16-core chip will draw as little as 5 watts of
> power.
>
> Tilera's chips have an advantage in performance-per watt compared to x86
> chips, but some will be skeptical as the chips are not yet established, said
> Will Strauss, principal analyst at Forward Concepts.
>
> "I don't think an average person is going to run out to buy a computer with
> Tilera in it," Strauss said. Intel has the advantage of being an incumbent,
> and even if Tilera offered something comparable to Intel's chips, it would
> take years to catch up.
>
> But to start, Tilera is focusing the chips on specific applications that can
> scale in performance across a large number of cores. It has ported certain
> Linux applications commonly used in servers, like the Apache Web server,
> MySQL database and Memcached caching software, to the Tilera architecture.
>
> "The reason we have target markets is not because of any technological
> limitations or other stuff in the chip. It is simply because, you know, you
> have to market your processor [to a] target audience. As a small company we
> can't boil the ocean," Agarwal said.
>
> The company's strategy is to go after lucrative markets where
> parallel-processing capability has a quick payout, Strauss said. Tilera could
> expand beyond the Web space to other markets where low-power chips are
> needed.
>
> It helps that applications can be programmed in C as with an Intel processor,
> but programmers are needed to write and port the applications, Strauss said.
> "How easy is it to port Windows or Linux also remains to be seen," he said.
>
> Applications like Apache and MySQL already run on x86 chips and can be ported
> to run on Tilera chips, company executives said. In a co-processor
> environment, x86 processors will run legacy applications, while the Tilera
> will do the Web-specific applications, he said.
>
> "As a smaller company, we can focus in on a couple of applications, drive
> those, and over time as we grow, we can expand," said Bob Doud, director of
> marketing at Tilera. The company didn't talk about the markets it would like
> to go into in the future.
>
> However, industry analysts say that application performance either levels off
> or even deteriorates as more cores are added to chips. Part of the
> performance relies on how the cores are assembled, said Agarwal, who is also
> a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the
> Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
>
> For faster data exchange, Tilera has organized parallelized cores in a square
> with multiple points to receive and transfer data. Each core has a switch for
> faster data exchange. Chips from Intel and AMD rely on crossbars, but as the
> number of cores expands, the design could potentially cause a gridlock that
> could lead to bandwidth issues, he said.
>
> "You can have three or four streets coming in but ... it's hard to imagine 30
> streets coming into an intersection," Agarwal said. The mesh architecture
> used in Tilera chips is expandable as the square gets bigger, he said.
>
> In addition to additional cores, the new Tilera chips include many upgrades
> from their predecessors. The chips are speedier, running at up to 1.5GHz,
> with support for 64-bit processing. The chips will be made using the
> 40-nanometer process, which make them smaller and more power-efficient.
> Earlier chips were made using the 90-nm process. The chips will start
> shipping next year, with the 100-core chip scheduled to ship in early 2011.
> Volume pricing for the chips will range from US$400 to $1,000. 
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