Intel has disclosed details of a future third generation of its Xeon Phi many-core processor family, to be based on 10nm chip technology, along with a next-generation iteration of its interconnect fabric, now renamed Omni-Path, which are expected to drive future high-performance computing (HPC) systems.
The updated roadmap was disclosed at the SC14 Supercomputing Conference in New Orleans, where Intel discussed the progress so far with its Xeon Phi processor family and how it intends to address the HPC market segment going forwards.
However, while the chipmaker announced new products, it disclosed few details regarding them, preferring to keep most of the specifics under wraps until closer to the release dates.
Knights Hill is the code name for the third-generation Xeon Phi chips that will succeed Knights Landing, and will be manufactured using a 10nm production process. This generation will also include the second generation of Intel's interconnect fabric technology, originally named Omni Scale but now rebranded as Omni-Path.
Knights Landing itself is not due to ship until next year, with the first commercial systems based on it expected to come online in the second half of 2015, while Knights Hill is expected in 2016.
While Intel is still focused on Knights Landing, it wanted to reassure customers that there was a roadmap beyond this product, according to Charlie Wuischpard, vice-president and general manager for Workstations and High Performance Computing in Intel's Data Centre group.
"When we're asking our customers to make big investments in code modernisation, we've got to demonstrate that this is not just a one or two generation investment but a multi-generational investment," he said.
Although Knights Landing was announced in 2013, Intel only really shed any light on the chip earlier this year, when it disclosed it will be a 14nm processor able to operate as a standalone CPU rather than a co-processor, and would come with 16GB of low-latency memory integrated inside the chip package to boost performance.
Knights Landing will also have "at least as many compute cores" as the existing Xeon Phi parts, which have up to 61 cores based on a version of the Silvermont architecture used in Intel's Atom chips. Intel declined to say whether Knights Hill will be based on the same architecture, but that it will likely have yet more cores and cache.
Likewise, Intel has previously given little away about its new interconnect fabric for the upcoming Xeon Phi chips, now renamed Omni-Path, other than it will use Intel's Silicon Photonics optical technology and offer higher performance than the existing True Scale fabric based on infiniBand that Intel uses.
Wuischpard said that Omni-Path is based on a 48-port switch architecture with 100Gbps line speed and offers 56 percent lower port-to-port latency than True Scale, while maintaining compatibility with it at the application level, offering users an upgrade path.
"The net effect is you'll lower your investment in fabric relative to the overall spend [on HPC infrastructure]," he said.
Intel also announced at the event the Intel Fabric Builders alliance to develop eco-system support around the Omni-Path architecture, with inaugural members including Red Hat, Suse, Altair Engineering, TE Connectivity and others.
Wuischpard said that 2014 has been a successful year for Intel's HPC products, with revenue experiencing double-digit growth. Intel expects more than 50 systems providers to build solutions based on upcoming Xeon Phi products, he added.
Wuischpard also said that there was still a need for a community effort to create a common HPC software stack, and that Intel was working on developing that.
"This is just a hint of our future direction. We need a software stack that supports both scale and simplifies application development, and cloud enablement. The whole idea is to develop an installation package that creates a more consistent, reliable and scalable environment, not just for the top-end shops but for HPC users at all levels," he said.
For more information on the cloud and supercomputing, visit the Intel IT Center.
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