Tilera Gx-3000 Series Brings Supercomputing Power To The Masses With Many-Core Chips

Intel's MIC programme is making waves in the supercomputing community at the moment, but it's going to be a while before the technology becomes affordable for all.

Thankfully, there are alternatives such as Tilera hitting the mainstream and thinq_ had a chat to Bob Doud to find out what the architecture is all about.

Intel's Many Core Architecture, which is due to hit government supply lists next year in the form of the Knights Corner x86 accelerator card, is likely to be the first time most people have heard of 'many-core' technologies. Intel isn't the first to coin the term, however: Tilera has been working on similar processors for quite some time.

"We use the term 'many-core processors' - that's beginning to take hold - to represent companies that have chips that really go beyond the eight cores or even the sixteen cores that we've seen from some of our competitors, and getting into a world where maybe you stop counting cores and just look at distributed computing," Doud explained. Unlike Intel, however, Tilera is already delivering on that promise.

"We've been shipping product since 2008 in production," Bob proclaimed, "so we have two generations that have been shipping to customers, and we're launching the third generation, the Gx series, this year - starting to sample the 36-core version next quarter."

That Tile-Gx series, announced today, promises to cut power consumption by around 80 per cent over the company's existing chips with each core consuming a mere 0.5W. Each core runs at 1.5GHz, and the initial product line will include 36, 64, or 100-core models.

The design comes from the mind of company founder Anant Agarwal, professor at MIT and one of the designers behind the MIPS CPU architecture. "In 2002 he was awarded a grant from DARPA and the National Science Foundation to build a silicon chip with 16 cores on it - so really very leading, even at that time when others were doing just two-core processors." Doud recalled, "So, they actually built a 16-core processor called RAW and that we see as Rev. 0, or the predecessor, of the Tile Architecture."

For the full interview and more technical information head over to thinq_