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Tilera Readies 100-Core Processors For Cloud Data Centers

The startup's Gx chips are designed to replace multiple processors, lowering system costs and energy consumption in large data centers.

Startup chipmaker Tilera believes it has a solution for the ever-expanding data centers housed by the likes of Facebook, Google, and cloud computing companies--its upcoming GX series of processors that range from 16 to 100 cores.

Tilera's GX series chips, set to be released in increments later this year, are designed specifically for cloud computing and large data center needs, since they replace multiple processors to lower system costs and energy consumption.

Tilera is one of many chipmakers who believe the rising demand for computing power and need for more energy efficiency can't be met by x86 processors. Chipmakers such as Intel and AMD have been busy adding cores to chips in order to boost performance and energy efficiency.

It is yet to be determined if Tilera's new chips rival the likes of Intel's Xeon and AMD's Opteron server chips. Intel introduced its 10 core Xeon processors with up to 10 cores in March, while AMD launched its first eight-core and 12-core Opteron processors last year.

However current processors haven't kept up with the requirements of giant data centers at Google and Facebook, which are expanding very rapidly and becoming increasingly expensive due to power costs, said Ihab Bishara, director of server solutions at Tilera.

"A big piece of our technology is how do we get many cores onto one chip," Bishara said. "The big issue with standard processors is, as they add cores, they don't scale performance because they end up distributing more. Our technology enables us to scale as close to linear as possible when it comes to performance."

Tilera is scheduled to release its 16-core and 36-core processors within the next couple of months. The 64-core and 100-core processors are due out in fourth quarter. The chip is designed for systems performing Internet-related functions, such as Web indexing and search. The TILE-Gx family will include 16-, 36-, and 64-core processors. The processors run at up to 1.5 GHz and power consumption ranges from 10 to 55 watts, which is the maximum power use of the 100-core product. By 2013 Tilera anticipates releasing a processor with more than 200 cores.

Tilera's processors are based on what it calls iMesh architecture capable of scaling to hundreds of RISC-based cores on a single chip, which includes integrated memory controllers and a rich set of I/O. A multicore development environment is offered for programming in C/C++ for the 64-bit platform. The company said its processors run standard Linux with TILE Architecture support integrated into the Linux 2.6.36 kernel. It said it has no plans to support Windows.

Tilera claims some of the largest Internet and cloud companies are either using or interested in using its processors. A report has circulated that Google is testing Tilera processors and Tilera neither denied nor confirmed the report.

Tierra has raised $109 million to date, including $45 million in January, from investors that include Cisco, Samsung, and Broadcom.

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