New chip could "eliminate the need for keyboards"

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The Independent Online

Microchip manufacturer Intel has unveiled a new processor that could fundamentally change the way that human beings interact with computers.

The new device offers 10 or 20 times the power of processors available in PC and Mac computers today. Whilst high-end computers are currently sold with "Quad-Core" chips - meaning there are effectively four processors working together - the new device crams 48 cores onto a single chip, bringing supercomputer power within the reach of personal computers for the first time.

Intel believes that future laptops with this power could have "vision" in the same way that humans can see objects and motion with a high degree of accuracy. Theoretically, this could change the way we interact with machines by eliminating the need for basic interfaces such as keyboards, mice or remote controls. Instead, computers will have the power to read and interpret our gestures as accurately as other humans.

The chip is nicknamed "single-chip cloud computer," after the current cloud computer networks that create mass processing power by distributing workload over the internet. Intel's chip, however, uses high-speed network links to send pass information between cores in microseconds. The key challenge for programmers now is to develop efficient ways to utilize the chip's power. Firms such as HP, Microsoft and Yahoo are already working on applications that can run on the device, and Intel will make 100 of the chips available to industry and academia next year to aid research.