New hardware boosts communication speed on multi-core chips

January 31, 2011

Computer engineers at North Carolina State University have developed hardware that allows programs to operate more efficiently by significantly boosting the speed at which the "cores" on a computer chip communicate with each other.

The core, or , is the brain of a computer chip; most chips currently contain between four and eight cores. In order to perform a task more quickly using multiple cores on a single chip, those cores need to communicate with each other. But there are no direct ways for cores to communicate. Instead, one core sends data to memory and another core retrieves it using algorithms.

"Our technology is more efficient because it provides a single instruction to send data to another core, which is six times faster than the best state-of-the-art software we could find," says Dr. James Tuck, an assistant professor of electrical and at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research. Tuck explains that the technology, called HAQu, is "not designed to communicate data on its own, but is hardware that expedites data-sharing using existing data paths on a computer chip." Because HAQu uses these existing data paths, the research team compared it to software communication tools – even though it is a piece of hardware.

HAQu is also more energy efficient. "It actually consumes more power when operating but, because it runs so much more quickly, the overall energy consumption of the chip actually decreases," Tuck says.

The next step for the research team is to incorporate the hardware into a prototype system to demonstrate its utility in a complex software environment.

Explore further: AMD Planning 16-Core Server Chip For 2011 Release

More information: The paper, "HAQu: Hardware-Accelerated Queueing for Fine-Grained Threading on a Chip Multiprocessor," is co-authored by Tuck, NC State Ph.D. students Sanghoon Lee and Devesh Tiwari, and Dr. Yan Solihin, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. The paper will be presented Feb. 14 at the International Symposium on High-Performance Computer Architecture in San Antonio, Texas. The research was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation.

Related Stories

AMD Planning 16-Core Server Chip For 2011 Release

April 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- AMD is in the process of designing a server chip with up to 16-cores. Code named Interlagos, the server chip will contain between 12 and 16 cores and will be available in 2011.

Intel's single-chip cloud computer

February 11, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Intel Labs has recently shown off a 48-core prototype chip it calls a "single-chip cloud computer" or SCC.

New software design technique allows programs to run faster

April 5, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new approach to software development that will allow common computer programs to run up to 20 percent faster and possibly incorporate new security ...

'Dark silicon' to improve smartphone battery life

September 1, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new smartphone chip prototype under development at the University of California, San Diego will improve smartphone efficiency by making use of "dark silicon" - the underused transistors in modern microprocessors. ...

Recommended for you

Smart home heating and cooling

August 28, 2015

Smart temperature-control devices—such as thermostats that learn and adjust to pre-programmed temperatures—are poised to increase comfort and save energy in homes.

Smallest 3-D camera offers brain surgery innovation

August 28, 2015

To operate on the brain, doctors need to see fine details on a small scale. A tiny camera that could produce 3-D images from inside the brain would help surgeons see more intricacies of the tissue they are handling and lead ...

Team creates functional ultrathin solar cells

August 27, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers with Johannes Kepler University Linz in Austria has developed an ultrathin solar cell for use in lightweight and flexible applications. In their paper published in the journal Nature Materials, ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

semmsterr
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
Here's to hoping this goes into production soon. I want to upgrade, but not before this goes public!
Parsec
not rated yet Jan 31, 2011
Overall thru-put increases using this technique will still be modest. The basic problem of using multi-cores efficiently with existing software is the actual bottleneck.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.