Intel is to offer two new ways for third-party hardware vendors to plug into its processors, which could enable a new market of application accelerators.
Pat Gelsinger, senior vice president at Intel's Digital Enterprise Group, told delegates at Intel Developer Forum that the firm has allowed Xilinx and Altera to create so-called Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) that connect directly to a processor's front side bus.
An FPGA chip is designed to perform one specific task, for instance to speed up floating point calculations. Having direct access to the front side bus is expected to boost these devices' performance.
The announcement is a direct response to the support that AMD has been building for its Torenza open socket design that allows third-party vendors to create co-processors that have access to the same resources as the CPU.
Roger Kay, founder of analyst firm Endpoint Technologies, said that Intel's move is mostly a "competitive response" to AMD's Torenza, as illustrated by the fact that only two hardware vendors are allowed access.
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