Apr 10, 2012Science and Technology
Chips as mini Internets

The data-routing techniques that undergird the Internet could increase the efficiency of multicore chips while lowering their power requirements. Computer chips have stopped getting faster; in order to keep increasing chips’ computational power at the rate to which we’ve grown accustomed, chipmakers are instead giving them additional “cores,” or processing units. Today, a typical chip might have six or eight cores, all communicating with each other over a single bundle of wires, called a bus. With a bus, however, only one pair of cores can talk at a time, which would be a serious limitation in chips with hundreds or even thousands of cores, which many electrical engineers envision as the future of computing. Li-Shiuan Peh, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, wants cores to communicate the same way computers hooked to the Internet do: by bundling the information they transmit into “packets.” Each core would have its own router, which could send a packet down any of several paths, depending on the condition of the network as a whole.

Relevant Locations: Mid-Cambridge, MA, USA
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