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Terahertz Band Intra-Chip Communications: Can Wireless Links Scale Modern x86 CPUs?

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Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6095-6109
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Access
Volume5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Abstract

Massive multi-core processing has recently attracted significant attention from the research community as one of the feasible solutions to satisfy constantly growing performance demands. However, this evolution path is nowadays hampered by the complexity and limited scalability of bus-oriented intra-chip communications infrastructure. The latest advantages of terahertz (THz) band wireless communications providing extraordinary capacity at the air interface offer a promising alternative to conventional wired solutions for intra-chip communications. Still, to invest resources in this field manufacturers need a clear vision of what are the performance and scalability gains of wireless intra-chip communications. Using the comprehensive hybrid methodology combining THz ray-tracing, direct CPU traffic measurements, and cycle-accurate CPU simulations, we perform the scalability study of x86 CPU design that is backward compatible with the current x86 architecture. We show that preserving the current cache coherence protocols mapped into the star wireless communications topology that allows for tight centralized medium access control a few hundreds of active cores can be efficiently supported without any notable changes in the x86 CPU logic. This important outcome allows for incremental development, where THz-assisted x86 CPU with a few dozens of cores can serve as an intermediate solution, while the truly massive multi-core system with broadcast-enabled medium access and enhanced cache coherence protocols can be an ultimate goal.

Keywords

  • CPU design, massive multi-core, medium access control, terahertz band, wireless intra-chip communications

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