Intel Announces New Supercomputer Chip, Partnership with NEC

Ryan Whitwam

Intel has announced a new version of its Nehalem-EX series CPUs for use in supercomputers. The chips are part of the Xeon family and are optimized for use in supercomputers.  The new six-core chips will run at higher clock speed than the current eight-core versions. A single computer will be capable of running 256 of the new CPUs. The new Nehalem-EX chips should be available next year.

Intel also made it known that they were partnering with NEC to develop new supercomputing technologies. In a joint statement, the two tech giants said they would, “push the boundaries of supercomputing performance.” Initially, the two companies will focus on boosting memory speed and scalability.

NEC plans to use advances gleaned from their work with Intel in future supercomputers that utilize Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX), an extension of the x86 architecture. A vector processor design is capable of processing multiple operations simultaneously. Current Xeon chips have strong scalar processing, meaning they run operations one at a time. AVX will also be used in Intel’s Sandy Bridge microarchitecture expected in 2011.

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