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Intel develops 48-core processor

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Intel has developed a 48-core prototype processor that could be on the market in five to ten years and change our ideas about what smartphones and tablets are capable of.

The processor, developed at Intel’s research lab in Barcelona, will likely take between five and ten years to become available on the market, but could radically alter the way mobile computing works. At present, smartphone processors generally have one, two or four cores, and each can be assigned a task – but with 48 at a CPU’s disposal, tasks could be shared.

Intel’s Tanausu Ramirez told Computerworld that, for example, the chip would be able to use different cores to decode different frames of an HD video at the same time, resulting in slicker video streaming. Cores could also run in parallel on different tasks, to reduce energy use and extend battery life. They could of course be assigned for multitasking much in the same way as current multi-core chips.

If it sounds like an excellent setup, it should be noted that there are limiting factors. Software is the main one: apps would have to be developed with the huge multi-core processors in mind – because if they’re not able to take advantage of many cores then the benefit in the CPU having them is lost. For example, even though some PC CPUs offer up to eight cores, it’s rare than a software app can take advantage of even six, let alone the full eight.

It’s certainly an interesting concept, and with Intel being a world leader in processor development it’s likely to become a reality if the company wants it to be. And knowing how quickly the chip market moves, it could be closer to the five year end of the prediction.

Excited about the prospect of 48-core CPUs? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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