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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: December 5, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

    Intel unveils 48-core processor

    Ciara O'Brien

    Remember the days before Windows, cheap desktops and increasingly fast microprocessors? Back then, we had an Amstrad CPC 6128k, complete with a green screen and a floppy disk drive.

    I loved it. The graphics were basic,it took ages to load games and you’d spend  hours typing lines and lines of code into it to get it a small graphic to bounce across the screen. They weren’t exactly crammed with memory and processing power, but we were amazed by them all the same.

    Fast forward to today, and Intel has just announced a new 48-core chip. To put it in perspective, we’re just up to chips with six to eight cores.

    It’s being referred to as a ‘single-chip cloud computer’, and according to Intel, it could change the way we interact with computers. Intel’s take on it:

    “Imagine, for example, someday interacting with a computer for a virtual dance lesson or on-line shopping that uses a future laptop’s 3-D camera and display to show you a “mirror” of yourself wearing the clothes you are interested in. Twirl and turn and watch how the fabric drapes and how the color complements your skin tone.

    “This kind of interaction could eliminate the need of keyboards, remote controls or joysticks for gaming. Some researchers believe computers may even be able to read brain waves, so simply thinking about a command, such as dictating words, would happen without speaking.”

    Not sure I’m too keen on the brainwave tapping…

    • Brendan Donegan says:

      The marketing spiel is all very well, but none of these applications are actually facilitated by 48 cores on a chip. There are real uses for such a setup, but these aren’t them. I guess going on about virtualisation and parallel computing doesn’t sell well.

    • John says:

      48-Core, next will be 96. Hope by then, it will do all the work for me and I can have plenty of time out and look forward to a 40 hour week :)

    • Martin says:

      “Twirl and turn and watch how the fabric drapes and how the color complements your skin tone.”

      But I already have a mirror. Is that too low tech? I’m not a big twirler, Ciara.

    • 127.0.0.1 says:

      I had a MAC Classic all in one number back in 82. First computer. Fantasticly complex to code…
      I am currently waiting for the MAC powerbook with the new Larrabee chip, if INTEL manage to get it sorted.
      I think it more likely that the technology in the wii, which I have seen cracked/employed to do surprising things musical, is more likely a candidate for virtuality (and virtuosity perhaps) than some crappy PC. After all, a PC will run windows (version 21 service pack 240 patch 13, security update 2000)
      Windows, made for muppets, by muppets ;o)

    • Darach Garland says:

      You must have come to computing quite late then, what about the Apple II and IIe, the DEC Rainbow and the IBM PC with cassette ports. None of your fancy 128K Ram there. Then we had the Sinclair ZX81 and the commodore 64 for home use. Hard Disks did not exist, Monochrome Screens ( 80 Line ) were standard. The mouse did not exist, except in the Xerox development centre P.A.R.C. ( Where Steve Jobs allegedly stole the idea ). later on floppy Diskettes were the storage media, both 5 1/4″ and 8 ” versions. Windows were there to let light in and a Mac was worn to keep the rain off. The Amstrad did not exist until much later and I will bet that in 25 years time we will look back at the 48 Core Intel Processor with just as many fond memories.

    • Sean says:

      No No … go back even further. The first really affordable computer. The sinclair ZX80. 1K of memory. Programs loaded from an audio tape unit. Thats 1K !!!! I could write complete programs with this tiny memory.

    • Mike says:

      Where will this all end ? I see my grandchildren having a chip inserted just above the corner of the eye – this chip will be control our lives – identity, drivers licence, ID, passport, bank account, investments, police record, income tax records, credit card – the list is endless.
      Not sure I want this, but how does on stop “progress”?

    • Ciara says:

      Darach Garland: I was seven when we got our first computer in 1987, before that I really wouldn’t have known what I was doing!

      We did have an Apple in school though – they wheeled it around from class to class every once in a while.

      Sean: I’ve heard talk of the Sinclair, though I’ve never actually seen one up close.

    • Martin says:

      Sean, what about the Altair 8800? In 1975 this sold as a kit for around $500. First real micro!

    • Stephen Rea says:

      For many of us these chip capacities will not be something we carry round with us in laptops or use on desktops. Having the Windows Environnment with MS Office, data inputted directly into a shared Enterprise Server etc at Datacentre level accessed by a browser (eg on Workspace Anywhere) gives many multiples of processing power of the access device (PC, Netbook, iPhone etc) already.

    • Lidija says:

      I had a sinclair ZX80. Loading games from the tape just cracks me up. You had to make sure that tape is at the right place to load the particular game you wanted! And playing without joystick, that came in a bit later… ah.. those were the days…

    • ccarpenter says:

      Clearly, Sean you never got the 16K RAM pack, now there was power for you! I remember our old ZX81 with great fondness and that bloody awful keyboard.

      Now, my iMac has 4 times more memory than disk space I had in my first laptop!