SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Intel Corp. has designed a computer chip that promises to perform calculations as quickly an entire data center -- while consuming as much energy as a light bulb.
The world's biggest chip maker said yesterday that its programmable processor can perform about a trillion calculations per second, or deliver a performance of 1.01 teraflops, while using 62 watts of power at a frequency of 3.16 gigahertz. A similarly powerful supercomputer in 1996 at Sandia National Laboratories took up more than 2,000 square feet, used nearly 10,000 Pentium Pro processors, and consumed 500 kilowatts of electricity.
Intel's latest chip is still in research, but it marks an important breakthrough for an industry obsessed with highest performance at lowest energy consumption.
Last month, Intel and International Business Machines Corp. separately said they had devised ways to replace problematic but vital materials in the transistors of computer chips that have begun leaking too much electric current as the circuitry on those chips gets smaller.
Executives at Intel, who will provide details of the chip this week, acknowledge that it might never make it to market in its current incarnation. Building the chip would be a manufacturing marvel, and it's unclear whether there's an operating system intelligent enough to control it.