January 30, 2012 -- Processor company Tilera Corporation launched its 36 and 16-core TILE-Gx 64-bit processors and evaluation systems, characterized by low power consumption and high performance. The semiconductors are debuting with more than 80 customers, like Harmonic and Mercury Computer Systems, among others.
The new 64-bit processors are 40nm node devices with 36 (TILE-Gx36) and 16 (TILE-Gx16) full featured cores, although the architecture is not "a bunch of chips shoved together," explained Bob Doud, director of marketing at the company. Low power and high performance are achieved with a "tile" architecture that integrates a switch, memory interconnect, etc in one block that is duplicated with step-and-repeat across the die. This allows Tilera to outperform chips made in smaller nodes, such as Intel processors, Doud said. The TILE-Gx36 has demonstrated a 165,276 CoreMark score, while consuming a fraction of the power of the nearest competitor.
|Figure. Tilera's many-core semiconductor device architecture. SOURCE: Tilera.|
In networking, a single TILE-Gx36 can deliver more than 40 gigabits per-second of L2/L3 packet forwarding performance across small and large packet sizes using less than 25 watts of power. In cloud, a single TILE-Gx36-based server can provide better performance than a Xeon-based system at one-fifth the power and one-eighth the space.
With a tile architecture (see the figure), as opposed to rings, busses, or other designs, interconnects between the blocks on the die are simple and short, preserving signal integrity. No interconnect resizing occurs from one core count to another.
Tilera produced 90nm chip designs in 2007 and 2008. The 40nm design released in 2012 will be followed up by a 28nm chip in late 2013, Doud noted. To make the jump from 90nm to 40nm, Tilera worked closely with its foundry partner and investor company, TSMC. TSMC is a choice partner because of the foundry's ability to scale our designs to high-volume manufacturing, noted Doud.
Tilera has 20 design wins for the TILE-Gx family. One customer, Steve Patterson at Mercury Computer Systems, notes TILE-Gx’s high speed I/O and built-in security features, as well as the development platform based on Linux and using the C/C++ development environment. Tilera's goal was to make the software side of its processor as easy to work on as possible, avoiding over-specialization that would slow down users' new product introduction cycles. Half of the Tilera team is on the software side, Doud said, to make sure customers can get the most out of our unique architecture. This, combined with a high-volume foundry partner, a scalable architecture design, and a broad applications market, keeps Tilera from being a "specialty" microprocessor company, Doud said. The chips are packaged in a standard organic flip-chip BGA.
Target applications for the new processors include networking, cloud computing, and multimedia, although additional uses range from military devices to government uses.
Tilera evaluation systems are immediately available in multiple form-factors, from compact size PCIe cards to high performance appliances. The Tilera PCIe cards offer a 36-core PCIe half-size card. The full featured appliance scales from a single 36-core TILE-Gx processor to a four processor 1U appliance with a total of 144 cores per 1U box.
Tilera also announced that its original co-founder Devesh Garg, is returning to the company as CEO. Devesh Garg, who was Tilera's CEO from its inception in 2004 until October 2007, is rejoining the company after a stint in India at Bessemer Venture Partners India. Garg remained active in the company as an investor and shareholder, and now that he's retaking the helm of Tilera, plans to bring Tilera from technical innovations to major market competitor, with the likes of Intel, Freescale, Cavium and others. Garg has experience in growing semiconductor companies, having been with Broadcom leading up to and through its initial public offering (IPO). This could be useful experience in Tilera's market path from technology origins at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) through start-up venture, to the near future of IPO and profitability, Doud concluded.
Tilera Corporation develops high-performance manycore microprocessors. For more information, visit www.tilera.com.