I'll bet you think your fancy new quad-core processor is pretty cool, but it's 996 cores short of this prototype thousand core processor that could potentially increase the speed of your computer by a factor of 20.
Making a processor with a thousand cores isn't as hard as it sounds, as long as you keep the cores small enough. Researchers at the University of Glasgow used a type of chip called a Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA), which is a processor that you can program into as many separate circuits as you have time for. By subdividing the FPGA into a thousand different circuits and giving them all their own little bit of memory, the team effectively created a thousand core processor.
So that was easy... why hasn't someone done this forever ago? Well, FPGAs are a pain to program and even more of a pain to utilize effectively, but part of the point of this project was to find ways to get them to play nice with conventional computer programs which aren't accustomed to breaking problems into so many pieces.
The maximum processing speed of the thousand core FPGA is 5 gigabytes of data per second, which would make it about 20 times faster than a 'modern computer' with a conventional processor if they can get it to work. And that's a pretty big 'if,' but it's a realistic enough possibility that Intel has been trying to do the exact same thing.
Via Daily Mail