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Intel & Microsoft boost multicore investment

Partners back UC Berkeley research

Microsoft and Intel will today unveil a plan to fund university research into new ways to program software for multicore processors.

The partners will unveil funding for research at the University of California at Berkeley to tackle the challenges of programming for processors that have more than one core and so can carry out more than one set of program instructions at a time, a scenario known as parallel computing.

UC Berkeley quietly opened a Parallel Computing Lab in January, according to a UC Berkeley website, and the companies are expected to reveal that they will be funding research there.

In 2006, researchers at Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department published a white paper sharing their views on parallel computing, which spurred the creation of the lab. In the paper, they said the current evolution of programming models from single-core to the dual-core and quad-core processors available today from Intel and AMD won't work for a future where processors could have as many as 16, 32 or hundreds of processors. They set out to find a better way to develop programming models to meet the challenges of multicore chips.

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Intel plans to release a six-core processor, code-named Dunnington, in the second half of this year, and an eight-core processor, called Nehalem, at some point in the future. AMD has not publicly discussed its plans for chips beyond its current quad-core offerings.

See also:

Intel to discuss Nehalem laptops at IDF

Microsoft and Intel plan to hold a press conference in the US today to discuss the news, which was revealed in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and other published reports on Monday. A spokeswoman from Microsoft's public relations firm confirmed the WSJ report but said it was only part of what will be revealed Tuesday.

Those expected to unveil the research on the conference call Tuesday are Andrew Chien, director and vice president at Intel Research, and Tony Hey, a corporate vice president at Microsoft Research.

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