With a stagnant PC industry and little progress in smartphones and tablets, selling high-end server chips is an increasingly important source of profit for
Most servers are made with off-the-shelf Intel Xeon chips, but last year
It plans to manufacture over 30 customised chips this year,
The technology Bryant announced at an event on Wednesday goes a step further, letting data centre operators customise the chips themselves, as often as they want.
The new component integrates a standard Xeon processor and a chip known as a field-programmable gate array, or FPGA. Customers can configure the chips as needed to make servers faster at handling proprietary tasks, like providing Web-search results or updating social networks.
"If they have an application that spends a lot of time on a particular algorithm, they can take that algorithm, take the soft (intellectual property), and load it into the FPGA and accelerate that workload," Bryant said.
She declined to say when
Programmable chips are typically used by manufacturers making small quantities of products or prototypes that do not warrant the expense of designing a new chip from the ground up. On
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