The day before opening the IDF fall 2006, Intel presented the broad outlines of the R&D department to the press. The main technological orientation is of course the massive multicore. Intel speaks of dozen of cores or even more.
If the design of these cores is already well known whether if they are generalist or specific (networks, 3D rendering, video, encoding, etc.), managing the communication between these core is the challenge that the development teams have to face. Several approaches based on existing technologies are possible: communicating via a ring bus (or a gathering of ring bus) or via a grid network.
A complex system of ring bus might be used to connect the CPUs.
Now, the thing is that according to Intel these approaches will quickly show their limits and another solution will have to be found for long term: optic communication via lasers. This isn't the first time that Intel speaks of this technology. One year and a half ago, the manufacturer announced to have successfully integrated a laser on silicon. Today, research seems to have progressed but is still far from being usable in production. The latest progresses show the possibility of the integration of communication at more than 1 terabit per second. This would allow a fast communication between the elements of the computer but also between the cores and memory which will be partly directly "stuck" to the multicore CPU via an advanced stacking method.
Intel is planning on piling a memory chip and a massively multicore CPU. On top will come a small radiator and possibly a mechanical cooling system based on MEMS
For the nearer future, Intel will insist during this IDF on quadcores CPUs (server and general public). The first examples will be released in November in shops.