updated 03:40 pm EDT, Tue March 18, 2008
Intel, MS Team on Research
Intel and Microsoft Research today said they would work together to research parallel computing for both home and work PCs. As part of a $20 million joint investment, the two companies will help fund Universal Parallel Computing Research Centers at both the University of Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The institutions will help develop more advanced ways of programming for and using processors with multiple cores, including operating systems.
The move is described as a necessary one with an increasing shift to parallelism in computer hardware evidenced by quad-core processors, which are now increasingly found in mainstream desktops and should land inside notebooks by September with the advent of an upcoming Core 2 Extreme chip. Many workstations and servers today use between eight and 16 cores.
"Intel has already shown an 80-core research processor," says Intel Corporate Technology vice president Andrew Chien. "And we're quickly moving the computing industry to a many-core world."
While parallel processing is already immediately useful for scientific studies and other professional purposes, the lessons from the research should result in both richer media formats, better visual interfaces, and mobile software that can take advantage of multiple cores in cellphones and handhelds, Intel and Microsoft say.
The companies have not set out a fixed timetable for when they expect progress but say the initial funding is spread out over five years.