Piton: This Open Source 25-Core Processor Chip Can Be Scaled Up to 200,000-Core Computer
Recently researchers were able to design a computer chip that promises to boost the performance of computers and data centers while processing applications in parallel.
A group of researchers from a university called “Princeton University” were able to develop a 25-core open source processor called Piton named after the metal spikes used by rock climbers, which has been designed to be flexible, highly scalable, fast and energy-efficient to satisfy the demands of massive-scale data centers.
The processor is one of the most important piece in every computer but it is the core which defines its actual efficiency and performance.
A Processor can have a single core or multiple cores, which receive instructions, then performs calculations on it based on those instructions, and gives the results back.
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Researchers aim is to design a chip that could be used specifically for massive computing systems in large data centers that handle cloud services, email services, search and social networking requests.
With Piton, researchers believe that they can create a giant 200,000-core computer stuffed with 8,000 64-bit Piton chips, ensuring the massive collection of cores are in sync when processing different applications in parallel.
Piton is an open-source processor based on OpenSparc, which is a modified version of Oracle’s OpenSparc T1 processor. The current version of the Piton chip measures 6mmx6mm with over 460 Million transistors (each 32nm), making Piton the largest chip developed by academia in size.
“The chip we’ve made is among the largest ever built in academia and it shows how servers could run far more efficiently and cheaply,” said David Wentzlaff, a Princeton University assistant professor of electrical engineering and faculty in the Department of Computer Science.
Some of Piton’s features are listed below:
- 25 modified OpenSPARC T1 cores
- Directory-based shared memory
- 3 On-chip networks
- Multi-chip shared memory support
- 1 GHz clock frequency
- IBM 32nm SOI process (6mm X 6mm)
- 460 Million transistors
A large number of chips with many dozens of cores were developed in recent years; for example in 2011, researchers from University of Glasgow had created an ultra-fast 1,000-core computer processor.
Also, IBM developed a neuromorphic computing-based “TrueNorth” in 2014, which is a 4,096 cores brain-like processor chip designed to mimic the human brain for real-time power efficiency.
The interesting thing in Piton is its ability to allow thousands of cores on a single chip with half a Billion cores in the data center, and more cores mean more processing power.