Microsoft, Intel to fund multi-core research at UC Berkeley

Microsoft and Intel on Tuesday will unveil a plan to fund university research for devising ways to program software for multi-core processors.

Microsoft and Intel on Tuesday will unveil a plan to fund university research into new ways to program software for multi-core processors, Microsoft confirmed Monday.

The companies will unveil funding for research at the University of California at Berkeley to tackle the challenges of programming for processors that have more than one core and so can carry out more than one set of program instructions at a time, a scenario known as parallel computing.

UC Berkeley quietly opened a Parallel Computing Lab in January, according to a UC Berkeley Web site, and the companies are expected to reveal that they will be funding research there.

In 2006, researchers at Berkeley's Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences department published a white paper sharing their views on parallel computing, which spurred the creation of the lab. In the paper, they said the current evolution of programming models from single-core to the dual-core and quad-core processors available today from Intel and AMD won't work for a future where processors could have as many as 16, 32 or hundreds of processors. They set out to find a better way to develop programming models to meet the challenges of multi-core chips.

Intel plans to release a six-core processor, code-named Dunnington, in the second half of this year, and an eight-core processor, called Nehalem, at some point in the future. AMD has not publicly discussed its plans for chips beyond its current quad-core offerings.

Microsoft and Intel plan to hold a press conference on Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. PST to discuss the news, which was revealed in The Wall Street Journal and other published reports on Monday. A spokeswoman from Microsoft's public relations firm confirmed the WSJ report but said it was only part of what will be revealed Tuesday.

Those expected to unveil the research on the conference call Tuesday are Andrew Chien, director and vice president at Intel Research, and Tony Hey, a corporate vice president at Microsoft Research.

(Agam Shah in San Francisco contributed to this story.)

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