Intel yesterday announced that its researchers have created a single chip with 80 processing cores, capable of a trillion floating point operations per second (Teraflops). The chip isn't available yet, however, and likely won't be for another five or six years.
A chart on Intel's website demonstrates how, through frequency scaling, the chip can be made to achieve as much as 1.81 Teraflops, though doing so increases the power needed from 62 Watts (less than many commercial processors available today) to 265 Watts. Just 10 years ago, a cluster of supercomputers capable of processing the same amount of calculations took up more than 2,000 square feet and consumed a half-megawatt of electricity.
This type of processor will be a big step in the right direction for making computers do what we really want. Better pattern recognition for speech and video, better simulations of physical and biological processes, and better video games are just a few examples of how more powerful processors can make our lives better.