On the cloud front, one of the more interesting projects that Held is working on is called the Single-chip Cloud Computer, or SCC for short.
Singe-chip Cloud Computer sounds a lot like that 80 core and 48 core CPU experiments that Intel had been working on a while back. There is a a note that the core is a Pentium 54c and that rings a bell too as it was the same core used for those multi-core CPUs. Now the research appears to be centered on the communications links between those cores and getting an optimal bit of work for a given amount of interconnectivity. Twenty-four cores is a big step down from 80 and 48 cores. I’m thinking Intel’s manufacturing process engineers are attempting to reign in the scope of this research to make it more worthy of manufacture. Whatever happens you will likely see adaptations or bits and pieces of these technologies in a future shipping product. I’m a little disappointed though that the scope has grown smaller. I had real high hopes Intel could pull off a big technological breakthrough with an 80 core CPU, but change comes slowly and Chip Fab lines are incredibly expensive to build, pilot and line out as they make new products. Conservatism is to be expected in an industry that has the highest level of up front capital expenditure required before there’s a return on the investment. If nothing else, companies like Seamicro, Tilera and ARM will continue to goose Intel into research efforts like this and innovate their old serial processors a little bit more.
On the other side of the argument there is the massive virtualization of OSes on more typical serial style multi-core CPUs from Intel. VMWare and competitors still continue to slice out clock cycles of the Intel processor to make them appear to be more than one physical machine. Datacenters have seen performance compromises using this scheme to be well worth the effort in staff and software licenses given the amount of space saved through consolidation. Less rack space, and power required, the higher the marginal return for that one computer host sitting on the network. But, what this article from The Register is trying to say is if a sufficiently dense multi-core cpu is used and the power requirements scaled down sufficiently you get the same kind of consolidation of rack space, but without the layer of software on top of it all to provide the virtualized computers themselves. A one-to-one relationship between computer core and actual virtual machine can be done without the typical machinations and complications required by a Hypervisor-style OS riding herd over the virtualized computers. In that case, less Hypervisor is more. More robust that is in terms of total compute cycles devoted to hosts, more robust design architecture to minimize single points of failure and choke points. So I say there’s plenty of room to innovate yet in the virtualization industry given that the CPUs and their architectures are in an early stage of innovating massively multi-core cpus.
- Cloud on a chip: Sometimes the best hypervisor is none at all (go.theregister.com)