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2/11/2007
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Intel Touts Teraflops Potential Of 80-Core Processor Prototype

The chip giant will disclose technical details on its 80-core Teraflops research processor at a chip conference in San Francisco this week.

In a unusual bout of Sunday newsmaking, Intel today issued a press release announcing that its researchers have developed what the chip giant is billing as the world's first programmable processor that delivers supercomputer-like performance from 80-core chip.

The release constitutes the second round of publicity that Intel is getting off of the 80-core processor, which was first reported by InformationWeek in mid-January. [In an e-mail message Sunday, an Intel spokeswoman emphasized that the company had made no formal news announcement in January; the earlier InformationWeek story was the result of an educational briefing with a reporter.]

At the time, Intel told InformationWeek that the processor was in fact a prototype, which would take from five to eight years to bring to market. Performance-wise, it characterized the 80-core device as supporting teraflops performance while dissipating less than 100 W of power. That would peg it as using less power than many of today's dual-core chips.

Intel's bid to get additional mileage out of the development is timed to coincide with this week's Integrated Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco, where company engineers will present a paper on the technical details of the 80-core processor, also known as the Teraflops research chips.

In verbiage possibly designed to make the development accessible to mainstream news consumers, Intel's Sunday press released noted that teraflops performance could make possible a wide range of new applications. "For example, artificial intelligence, instant video communications, photo-realistic games, multimedia data mining and real-time speech recognition--once deemed as science fiction in 'Star Trek' shows--could become everyday realities," the Intel press said.

However, the nod to Star Trek was followed by a note that "Intel has no plans to bring this exact chip designed with floating point cores to market."

The ISSCC conference runs Sunday through Thursday at the San Francisco Marriott.

[Jan. 11, 7:44pm, Editor's Note: Corrected reference to mid-January story on the 80-core chip and added parenthetical comment by Intel spokeswoman saying that there had been no previous formal announcement. The headline was also amended.]

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