Soft Machines Promises 3x Performance Than Current CPUs with its Shasta VISC Processor
Soft Machines, a new startup has been working on a new type of architecture they call Virtual Instruction Set Computing (VISC) through which they are boasting to provide either up to three times the performance per watt than current CPUs or as much as 75 percent reduction in power consumption if used to reach the same level of performance.
In October 2015 they have the proof of concept for their VISC architecture and now they have also shared the roadmap for the future. They suggest that Shasta, the first VISC processor, will tape out in mid 2016 – suggesting a consumer launch the next year.
Other than that Shasta+ is expected in 2017 and finally Tahoe in 2018. Check out the roadmap below.
Soft Machines says that Shasta “will feature dynamic support for one or two 64-bit virtual cores, delivering server-class performance at mobile power levels” by “enhancing virtual cores as well as using advanced process technologies.”
In order to reach the performance levels, they use a different approach than the usual wider architecture and out-of-order executions which lead to greater demand in power.
However, Shasta uses virtual cores and pushes the thread scheduling and syncing burden to hardware and not the programmer or the OS. Threads are broken into threadlets that execute on more than one cores hence leading to lower consumption of power or potential of better performance.
Using one virtual core to dynamically execute threadlets on two physical cores, Shasta outperforms today’s most advanced processors by 150% to over 200% at the same power, but more importantly, it can operate at 1/4th to 1/3rd the power at the same performance.
In theory, which we hope they will soon demo practically, they are looking to challenge the conventional CPU architectures big time.