By Matthew Dublin
In order to make exascale computing a reality, engineers at Intel are aiming to push Moore's Law as far as it can go — 100 times faster than current processors operate by the 2018 to be exact. One approach to exascale-capable processor design is to stack chips and transistors on top of each other so that processors will be built more like cubes rather traditional flat chips.The reason for a cube shaped chip architecture is to facilitate faster data transfer in and out of the processor cores.
As Steve Pawlowski, an exascale computing researcher an Intel senior fellow, explained tothe Register at the recent European Research and Innovation Conference in Ireland, by stacking on top of the CPU die designers can make wider memory interfaces or increased bandwidth, thereby reducing the length a signal has to go from A to B.
The only problem with stacking is the one its implemented to surmount — Moore's Law. In lab experiments so far, the heat created by stacking chips has the undesirable effect of melting the chips. Despite this unfortunate side-effect, Pawlowski is convinced that this design is the way to go as the answer will not be found in constructing HPC chips with new materials, such as graphene which IBM has already shown can be used to create very fast chips.
"Every time I hear this technology is going to run out of gas in ten years and we’re going to need something new, there’s always some new way of engineering or some new creative way to use the material that gives you a longer life," says Pawlowski.