http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070212-8824.htmlYou're probably wondering what the point of an 80-core processor is, when PS3 programmers are moaning about having to code for a chip with a mere seven small, in-order floating-point cores. This question has few answers, depending on how you approach it.
In the near-term, the point of this terascale chip is that it's a research project. The individual cores are very simplified, and they don't implement a standard ISA, because right now they're there for research purposes. (I'd expect the cores to get more complex, and maybe to offer more than just floating-point, in a production model.) So the chip as a whole provides a platform for tooling around with massively multicore architectures, and figuring how to organize them, connect them to memory, program them, and generally bring ideas from the drawing board into the lab. In other words, this chip is a prototype, and it points in a direction that Intel thinks they'll eventually take.
From a manufacturing and hardware design standpoint, the main problems that go with making use of an 80-core processor are interconnect- and memory latency-related. So Intel is clearly trying to solve those with TSVs and the laser interconnect technology, so that they can make usable systems built around such massively multicore chips.http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060926-7840.html
I feel like I need to post about this for the sake of anyone who hasn't already seen it. But odds are, most of you have. So instead of just spitting back a press release, I tried to find some articles that talk a little bit more about the "how" and "why" of this new chip. Hopefully you're seeing more real info here than in most news stories on the subject.