Scottish Scientists Create 1000-Core Processor on a Single FPGA Chip

By Ashok Bindra December 30, 2010

U.K.’s Daily Mail reports that scientists at the University of Glasgow in Scotland have created an ultra-fast computer chip, which is 20 times faster than current desktop processors. Led by scientist Wim Vanderbauwhede, the researchers believe that the new processor chip ushers in a new age of high-speed computing.

In this development, the Scottish scientists have used a Xilinx field programmable gate array (FPGA). Specifically, Xilinx Virtex V4 was used in this design. 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, writes Daily Mail. Also, the scientists claim that the 1000-core processor consumes far less power than modern processors.

As per the description in the Daily Mail, the processor can process around 5 Gbytes of data per second, making it approximately 20 times faster than modern computers. Also, the scientists were able to obtain faster processing by giving each core a certain amount of dedicated memory. However, the report does not provide any details on the cores.

Commenting on this development, Vanderbauwhede said, as reported in the Daily Mail,  'This is very early proof-of-concept work where we're trying to demonstrate a convenient way to program FPGAs so that their potential to provide very fast processing power could be used much more widely in future computing and electronics.” He added, “FPGAs are not used within standard computers because they are fairly difficult to program but their processing power is huge while their energy consumption is very small because they are so much quicker - so they are also a greener option.”

Furthermore, Vanderbauwhede continued, “While many existing technologies currently make use of FPGAs, including plasma and LCD televisions and computer network routers, their use in standard desktop computers is limited.” However, developers like Intel and ARM have already announced microchips that combine traditional CPUs with FPGAs. Hence, noted Vanderbauwhede, “I believe these kinds of processors will only become more common and help to speed up computers even further over the next few years.”

The scientists plan to present this work at the International Symposium on Applied Reconfigurable Computing in March next year in Belfast, U.K.

 


Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

TechZone360 Contributor

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