Intel Opens Up About Xeon Phi ‘Knights Landing’ CPU

Intel promises its upcoming “Knights Landing” chip will deliver significant performance improvements

Intel officials have revealed more information about an upcoming version of its Xeon Phi technology.

The new arrival will be a key step in the push toward more widespread adoption of high-performance computing and toward the eventual goal of exascale computing by the end of the decade, according to company officials.

Knights Landing

Speaking at the SC ’13 supercomputing show in Denver 19 November, Intel officials said the “Knights Landing” version of the Xeon Phi chip will bring with it significant improvements in both performance and power consumption, not only though its 14-nanometer manufacturing process but also via its ability to be used as either a primary compute processor or as a coprocessor in conjunction with another host processor, such as Intel’s Xeon server chips.

Xeon PhiKnights Landing will be a key departure from the current 22nm Xeon Phi coprocessors and the GPU accelerators being offered by Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices, all of which are designed to help ramp up the performance of high-performance computing (HPC) systems without increasing the amount of power they consume, officials said.

Knights Landing will have many cores (the current coprocessors offer as many as 60), will be able to run single-threaded and parallel-processing applications, will offer greater integrated on-package memory capabilities and improved interconnect and – as a host processor – will not have to wait for applications to pass through a primary processor, as coprocessors and GPU accelerators have to today, according to Joe Curley, director of marketing for Intel’s Technical Computing Group.

“It will be a processor and will be able to be used as a coprocessor,” Curley told eWEEK in an interview before the start of the SC ’13 conference.

That ability will mean faster processing times, less bandwidth and smaller systems, all important elements as the industry pushes toward its goal of exascale computing by 2020. Intel, other tech vendors, research institutions and governments – the US government is putting $126 million (£78m) behind the effort – are looking to get beyond petascale computing and reach the exascale level, which would be a thousandfold increase over petascale.

Intel last month announced it was opening parallel computing centres worldwide to help get workloads ready for parallel computing, according to Intel officials.

HPC Computing

Nvidia and AMD for the past several years have been pushing their GPU technologies as accelerators for HPC systems. Also at the SC ’13 show, Nvidia officials unveiled the Tesla K40, the next-generation accelerator that will offer twice the memory and 10 percent more performance than the current K20X GPUs. Four days earlier, AMD rolled out its FirePro S10000 12GB Edition GPU for big data and HPC workloads.