Intel Talks Hybrid Memory Cubes, Multi-Core for the Mainstream

Did you think Intel would squander its final day at IDF sitting on its thumbs and letting the momentum from previous announcements close out the event? Pshaw! Rather than do that, Intel brought up a number of topics today, including plans to take computing to the extreme, multi-core's many uses, and an interesting new DRAM concept called Hybrid Memory Cube.

Let's start with the multi-core talk. Lest anyone thing single-core is long for this world, Intel came out and said what we already know, which is "the practice of building more than one processing engine into a single chip has become the accepted method to increase performance." It's also not as simple as that. As Intel continues to bring multi-core processing into the mainstream, the chip maker noted there has to be (and has been) reinventions in overall chip design.

Near Threshold Voltage Processor with Solar Cell

More interesting than selling us on something we're already sold on, however, was Intel's take on extreme computing. During the event, Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer, demonstrated a Near-Threshold Voltage Processor. Say what now? This concept CPU uses novel, ultra-low voltage circuits that significantly reduces power consumption by operating close to threshold, which is the turn-on voltage, of the transistors. It can ramp up in a hurry as needed, and then drop down to below 10mW, low enough so that it can stay running while powered by a postage stamp-sized solar cell. Pretty rad.

Hybrid Memory Cube

Finally, Intel talked about its collaboration with Micron in developing a DRAM concept they're calling Hyper Memory Cube. This represents a brand new approach to memory design, one that delivers a 7-fold improvement in energy efficiency over today's DDR3. It consists of a stacked memory chip configuration that forms a compact cube, and then uses an efficient memory interface to transfer bits of data back and forth. Looking down the line, this technology could benefit a range of consumer electronics, like televisions, tablets, and smartphones, as well as Intel's Ultrabook category.