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Princeton University have developed a 25-core open source processor called Piton

Princeton University researchers have developed a new computer chip that promises to boost the performance of data centers that lie at the core of numerous online services such as email and social media.

The chip — a 25-core open source processor called "Piton" after the metal spikes driven by rock climbers into mountainsides to aid in their ascent — was presented Aug. 23 at Hot Chips, a symposium on high-performance chips held in Cupertino, California.

Data centers — essentially giant warehouses packed with computer servers — support cloud-based services such as Gmail and Facebook, as well as store the staggeringly voluminous content available via the internet. Yet the computer chips at the heart of the biggest servers that route and process information often differ little from the chips in smaller servers or everyday personal computers.

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 can allow thousands of cores on a single chip with half a Billion cores in the data center, and more cores mean more processing power.

Another innovation by the researchers is a 'Memory-Traffic Shaper' that acts as a mediator between the demands of different apps accessing memory on the chip and waving them properly, so they do not block the system.

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.

Piton's features are listed below:
  1. 25 modified OpenSPARC T1 cores
  2. Directory-based shared memory
  3. 3 On-chip networks
  4. Multi-chip shared memory support
  5. 1 GHz clock frequency
  6. IBM 32nm SOI process (6mm X 6mm)
  7. 460 Million transistors

Piton is yet a prototype for future commercial server systems that possibly can take advantage of a huge number of cores to speed up processing.

Details about Piton were presented at the Hot Chips: A Symposium on High-Performance Chips conference in Cupertino this week and the Princeton researchers have made the design open source, making it available to the public and fellow researchers.

Source: Princeton.edu

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