Tera Scale Lab: Where hardware meets software

During a recent visit to Santa Clara in California, IT PRO took a look round Intel’s Tera Scale project, where the company researches the hardware and software of the future.

"Using high speed optical communication our plan is to have memory for all the servers in a separate rack. This will allow quick and flexible allocation of memory between processors when the need arises," Bautista mentions.

Intel has demonstrated a theoretical 1Tb/sec optical path using lasers manufactured in silicon. The link consists of 25 lasers communicating a 40Gb/sec each. Every laser uses a separate waveguide with a separate wavelength thereby multiplexing the 25 signals over a single fibre.

From hardware to software

Tera Scale Lab is not only about hardware. There is also a lot of research on software going on. Right now the most exciting is the new programming language Ct especially designed to make it easy for programmers to write multi core applications.

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In essence, Ct is both a programming language for parallel programming and a runtime. Ct lets software engineers program parallel threads without worrying about the number of cores available at runtime.

The runtime environment takes care of distributing the threads across the available core in the most effective fashion. This way an application will be coded is the same whether it runs on a dual core processor or a forthcoming octo core.

Finally, Intel is also coding simulations that show what future processors may be able to achieve. The most impressive is a football match between England and Germany (named AMD and Intel in the demo) where the software identifies the ball and all the players in real time. The purpose of the software is to allow consumers to let their computers automatically sift through videos, automatically classify them, then make short video highlight packages.

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