Massively multicore processor runs Linux

A startup founded by an MIT professor claims to have "solved the fundamental challenges associated with multicore scalability." Tilera's first products include a 64-core Tile64 SoC (system-on-chip), PCIe Express add-in board for networking and video-processing applications, multicore-optimized Linux libraries, and an Eclipse-based multicore development environment toolset.

Fabbed on 90nm process technology at TMSC, the Tile64 chip is "the first in a family of chips that can scale to hundreds and even thousands of cores," Tilera said. The company plans to bake a 120-core version on 65nm technology in the future, it added.

The Tile64 is based on a proprietary VLIW (very long instruction word) architecture, on which a MIPS-like RISC architecture is implemented in microcode. A hypervisor enables each core to run its own instance of Linux -- or other OSes, once they become available. Alternatively, the whole chip can run Tilera's 64-way SMP (symmetrical multiprocessing) implementation.