Thought you were bleeding edge with your quad-core PC? Think again. A company called Tilera today announced that it's working on a chip containing 100 processor cores, which it says could be seen by 2011. It's part of its new TILE-Gx line of 64-bit multi-core processors, the first of which--a 36-core chip--will be sampling by the end of 2010, the company said today in a statement. With its top-end TILE-Gx100, Tilera claims to outstrip Intel's next-generation Westmere processor in performance-per-watt by a factor of 10. Other models will contain 16 and 64 cores, and will sample in early 2011.

But all those cores won't do much good without applications to exercise them, right? So Tilera also offers Multicore Development Environment, a simplified multi-core Eclipse-based IDE that can target SMP Linux 2.6, Zero Overhead Linux, Bare Metal Environment and hybrid systems. The package includes an ANSI C/C++ compiler, system simulator, GNU command line tools and graphical multi-core application debugging and profiling.

The breakthroughs in multi-core technology are the result of an architecture under development since 1990. TILE-Gx chips share local cache across all cores, and a proprietary two-dimensional interconnect eliminates the need for an on-chip bus.

“We believe this next generation of high-core count, ultra high-performance chips will open completely new computing possibilities,” said Tilera CEO Omid Tahernia, a 21-year veteran of Motorola who joined Tilera in 2007 after running the DSP division of Xilinx. “Customers will be able to replace an entire board presently using a dozen or more chips with just one of our TILE-Gx processors, greatly simplifying the system architecture and resulting in reduced cost, power consumption, and PC board area. This is truly a remarkable technology achievement...[and] ushers in a new era of many-core processing.” Tell me, Tilera, would that be the "Tile Era?"

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I am Technical Editor of the [url=http://www.crn.com]CRN Test Center[/url], a kind of computer-centric "Consumer Reports" for retailers and VARs ([url=http://crn.com]www.crn.com[/url]). I bought my first computer in 1980, an Atari 800. In addition to adventure games like Zork, I also played with the hardware, dabbling with ROM dumps and mods to the 810 disk drive. That's also where I learned BASIC programming. After 1984, I moved to PCs, clones and NetWare, and then to Apple IIs and Macs until around 1990. In July of that year I got my first job at a publishing company, supporting about 25 Mac users (including the staff of "MacWeek").

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