Scientists creates an ultra-fast 1000-core computer processor

Dr Wim Vanderbauwhede of the University of Glasgow and colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has created a processor which effectively contains more than a thousand cores on a single chip and is 20 times faster than current desktop computers. The chip was able to process around five gigabytes of data per second in testing ― making it approximately 20 times faster than modern computers. To do this, the scientists used a chip called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) which like all microchips contains millions of transistors – the tiny on-off switches which are the foundation of any electronic circuit. FPGAs can be configured into specific circuits by the user, rather than their function being set at a factory, which enabled Dr Vanderbauwhede to divide up the transistors within the chip into small groups and ask each to perform a different task. By creating more than 1,000 mini-circuits within the FPGA chip, the researchers effectively turned the chip into a 1,000-core processor – each core working on its own instructions.

The researchers then used the chip to process an algorithm which is central to the MPEG movie format – used in YouTube videos – at a speed of five gigabytes per second: around 20 times faster than current top-end desktop computers. The developments could usher in a new age of high-speed computing in the next few years for home users frustrated with slow-running systems. The new ‘super’ computer is much greener than modern machines ― using far less power ― despite its high speed.