Brian: These chips would be over 500 times faster than the best Athlons
or Pentium 4s we have now. And in only 5 years. WOW
Eliezer: If this is true, a medium-sized research project should
definitely be able to buy enough power for "true AI" by 2005-2007. Of
course, that's hardware rather than software - but still.
Monday March 12 02:09 PM EST
Tech Titans To Build 'Supercomputer on a Chip'
By Tim McDonald, www.NewsFactor.com
IBM, Toshiba Corp. and Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. announced an
alliance on Monday aimed at advancing computer chip technology that will
enable consumers to buy electronic devices that will be more powerful than
IBM's Deep Blue supercomputer within five years.
The companies said they will commit US$400 million to develop a
"supercomputer on a chip" -- processors that will operate at low power and
that will be able to access the Internet via broadband at ultra-high
speeds. "The processor platform that people have only been able to
imagine is now going to become a reality," said Ken Kutaragi, president
and chief executive officer of Sony CEI.
Officials for all three companies said at the announcement in Tokyo that
the new microchips, code-named "Cell," will use the world's most advanced
research technologies and chip-making techniques.
As for what types of electronic devices will use the chips and be
available for widespread use by consumers, plans are still uncertain,
Sony's Chris Andrews told NewsFactor Network. "It really remains to be
seen exactly where [the chips will be used], but it will be computing
devices that consumers will use to connect to and interact with the
Internet," Andrews said. "They will essentially be more powerful than
some of the most advanced supercomputer chips," Andrews told NewsFactor,
"but will find their way into more consumer applications, in addition to
servers and high-end applications."
IBM To License Technology
The project will employ 300 chip designers and computer architects at its
peak, all working toward the goal of developing a "teraflop-class"
consumer processor. A teraflop is one trillion floating point operations
per second. Under the agreement, IBM will license to Sony its 0.10 micron
processing technology, which reduces the size of circuit features and
enables smaller chips to run at faster speeds. The fastest current
microchips are produced at 0.11 microns or 0.13 microns. Production on a
commercial scale at a sub-0.10 micron level -- 10,000 times thinner than a
human hair -- has not yet been achieved.
Officials for Sony, the world's second-largest consumer electronics maker,
said the technology will allow the company to build more advanced
production lines in Japan for the microprocessors used in its line of
PlayStation game consoles. Sony was plagued last year with shortages of
the new PlayStation2, particularly in the U.S. where demand was great.
New Wave of Devices
The three high-tech companies, which will share a development center to be
housed within an IBM facility in Austin, Texas, said the agreement calls
for all three firms to manufacture the product for "a new wave of
devices." With built-in broadband connectivity, ultra-high speed networks
will be expanded and become more closely linked, in effect forming one
unified "super-system," the companies claimed.
"Just as biological cells in the body unite to form complete physical
systems, 'Cell-based' electronic products of all types will form the
building blocks of larger systems," Kutaragi said. IBM also announced on
Monday that it is joining the efforts of a computer chip industry group
studying ways of coming up with smaller circuit patterns on semiconductors
for the purpose of boosting their speed.
The consortium is experimenting with extreme ultra-violet light as a means
of printing the increasingly complex circuits on next-generation
-- Brian Atkins Director, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence http://www.singinst.org/
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