Intel pledges 99.7 per cent power drop for CPUs

Justin Rattner, chief technical officer of semiconductor giant Intel, has reiterated his company's commitment to many-core computing at the company's Intel Developer Forum event this week with the promise of a rather impressive target: a drop in CPU power consumption by 99.7 per cent over the next ten years.

Speaking to attendees at the closing ceremony of his company's annual event, Rattner claimed that the radical power drop - equivalent to taking one of the company's 100W desktop processors of today and making it run at the same performance on just 0.3W - will be necessary if many-core computing is to succeed.

It's a refrain we've heard from Intel before. Earlier this year, during the International Supercomputing Conference, Intel's Kirk Skaugen told thinq_ that he was aiming for a hundred-fold increase in performance in a mere doubling of the power envelope as part of a project to create an exascale supercomputer which draws a mere 20MW.

"We're trying to deliver 100x performance over today's systems, while only increasing power 2x," Skaugen explained at the time, pointing to the current Top500 leader's 825 megaflops per watt as being unacceptable in the long run. This isn't something Intel can do alone," he confessed at the time. "We need governments, institutions, and universities to be a key part of this, because no one company can do it alone."

Despite this, Rattner seems confident that within a decade Intel will be beating that figure for both its supercomputer-themed Many Integrated Core, or MIC, products and its mainstream processors. The targets offered by Rattner during his speech suggest a drop in power draw to 0.3 per cent of the current levels, outstripping the 0.5 per cent target espoused by Skaugen.

Sadly, Rattner - like Skaugen before him - was somewhat cagey on precisely how his company will achieve such a dramatic drop in power draw among its future products except to say that Intel is committed to "a decade-long effort to take computing to a new extreme of energy efficiency and performance."