OMG! A 1000-Core Processor

Image credit: UCDavis

When I picked the Electronics For You Plus, August 2016 edition from a heap technical magazines tossed on the library table today, little did I know that the top technology update in the Tech News section would be a sweat-inducing one!

Meet KiloCore

A team of researchers from University of California, Davis (UCDavis) has unveiled the world’s first 1000-processor microchip at the 2016 Symposium of VLSI Technology and Circuits. Named logically as KiloCore, the processor has raised the bar high enough to pull-up against in many aspects of the semiconductor chip technology. Let’s quickly capture few muscular facts of this processor-on-steroids!

1.78 Trillion Instructions per Second (IPS)

The KiloCore’s 1000 processors running at 1.7 GHz give us the performance rating of stunning 1.78 Trillion Dhrystone IPS, making it one of the fastest processors the industry has ever heard of. To contrast, KiloCore is faster than Intel Core i7 6950x clocked at 3 GHz (having 317,900 Dhrystone MIPS) by a factor of five.

621 Million Transistors On a Single Die

KiloCore’s transistor count is a whopping 621 million. That’s  Moore’s Law on roller-skate! Here’s the interesting part: the team has achieved this amount of logic gate density using the 32-nanometer semiconductor fabrication technology which is too big considering the fact Intel’s 10-nanometer Cannonlake microarchitecture set to be released in mid 2017. In other words, the transistor density on KiloCore can dramatically be increased should they switch to a much more shrinkable process technology such as 22 nm or 14 nm.

Unparallel Parallel Processing

The conventional Single-Instruction-Multiple-Data approach of graphics processing units (GPUs) require all the cores run at the same clock frequency regardless of the workload. KiloCore is designed in a way that each processor core can run its own small program independently of the others, which is a fundamentally more flexible approach than that of the conventional approach. Because each processor is independently clocked, it can shut itself down to further save energy when not needed.

Most ‘energy-efficient’

The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts of power. In other words, the power requirement of the processor is no more than a single AA battery, making it the least power consuming processor to date.  Bevan Baas, professor at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), who led the team that designed the chip architecture, claims that the chip is the most energy-efficient “many-core” processor yet.


Heavy-duty applications such as encryption, video processing, compression, and a variety of scientific data applications have been developed specifically to take advantage of the multiple cores in KiloCore. Do note that your day-to-day tasks like movies on VLC, MS word or Facebook won’t see any performance boost on KiloCore.

These kinds of processors are designed for research purposes or for super-computers. So don’t expect KiloCore in your next laptop or desktop.

UCDavis | World’s First 1000-Processor Chip
ScienceAlert | Scientists just unveiled the world’s first 1000-processor computer chip


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