Wired reports that by 2017, HP hopes to build a computer chip that includes 256 processors tied together with beams of light. Full details over here.
Codenamed Corona, this laser-powered contraption would handle 10 trillion floating points operations a second. In other words, if you put just five of them together, you’d approach the speed of today’s supercomputers. The chip’s 256 cores would communicate with each other at an astonishing 20 terabytes per second, and they’d talk to memory at 10 terabytes a second. That means it would run memory-intensive applications about two to six times faster than an equivalent chip made with good, old-fashioned electric wires.
More importantly, Corona would use a lot less power, helping the world’s supercomputers break the vaunted exascale barrier — i.e., deliver a machine that can handle one quintillion (10 to the 18th) floating point operations a second. That’s 100 times faster than today’s fastest supercomputer. “Electronics … cannot scale to the scale that we need for these large systems,” says HP Labs researcher Marco Fiorentino.