Via Tom Kirkland, a team at the University of Texas is working on a prototype computer chip that can change its function according to the task at hand and in doing so achieve incredible speed.
If the chip works as planned, it will run at a top speed of 10 gigahertz and perform one trillion operations (meaning individual computing tasks) per second. In comparison, Intel Corp.’s current top-speed Pentium 4 processor runs at 3.4 gigahertz and delivers 6.8 billion operations per second. The anticipated performance has led the design team to dub the device a “supercomputer on a chip.”
The UT team has nicknamed their design “Trips,” for Tera-Op Reliable Intelligently Adaptive Processing System. The term tera-op refers to the targeted one trillion operations per second. The system would divide individual processing cores on the chip into tiny sections that could change automatically for several predetermined functions. The idea is that the processing cores would morph as instructions flowed in. Each chip could contain many processing core, which would enable a single chip to perform multiple functions simultaneously while optimizing for each. Conventional chips generally do only one thing at a time. Moreover, the distributed architecture of the UT team’s design would reduce clock delays, which limit the performance of conventional chips.
They’re still a year off from having a working chip to test, and maybe five years from a commercial product. Regardless, this is way cool.