Intel has disclosed further details of its next-generation Xeon Phi processor for high-performance computing (HPC), codenamed Knights Landing. It is due to be available in the second half of 2015, along with a new interconnect fabric known as Intel Omni Scale.
The chipmaker showed off the updates to its Xeon Phi many integrated core (MIC) platform at the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) 2014 conference in Leipzig, Germany.
Intel first announced Knights Landing at last year's event, but gave away few details other than that the chip would be a 14nm part, would be able to operate as a standalone CPU rather than a co-processor, and would have integrated on-package memory.
Now, Intel has disclosed that this chip will be based on a version of the Silvermont core used in Intel's Atom processors, with HPC enhancements including a low-latency mesh for inter-core communication. The first commercial systems with it are likely to ship in the second half of 2015.
Knights Landing will also have "at least as many compute cores" as the existing Xeon Phi products, according to Charles Wuischpard, vice president for Workstations and HPC in Intel's Data Centre Group. This means at least 61 cores, while rumours have already indicated it may in fact be a 72-core chip.
The first Knights Landing chips will have up to 16GB of on-package memory, which offers five times the bandwidth of DDR4 memory, but this is expected to be in addition to DDR4 memory on the motherboard, not replacing it.
"One of the choke points in many applications used today is I/O and memory bandwidth, and this is specifically designed to remove that bottleneck," Wuischpard explained.
Knights Landing will in fact offer three times the performance of the current Knights Corner Xeon Phi product, offering over three teraflops in a single processor socket, Intel claimed.
However, with the Silvermont Atom cores it also continues Intel's approach to HPC, which is to keep as much compatibility as possible between its Xeon Phi architecture and its existing x86 chips with their huge installed base of software.
Knights Landing will also feature a new interconnect fabric that will be integrated onto the chip, and which Intel is referring to as Omni Scale. This will be the fabric used in future Xeon Phi chips, according to Wuischpard.
Intel is not giving away too much detail on Omni Scale yet, but said it is different from the current True Scale fabric in Knights Corner, which is based on quad data rate (QDR) InfiniBand technology, while maintaining software compatibility.
It will use Intel's Silicon Photonics fibre-optic technology, and will encompass a full suite of offerings including PCI Express adapters and switch hardware. Intel will provide an upgrade path from True Scale to Omni Scale, Wuischpard said.
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