SAN FRANCISCO: Intel has given a sneak peek of the firm's next-generation Xeon Phi processor, codenamed Knights Mill, which will be optimised for artificial intelligence (AI) software.
Attendees at Intel Developer Forum on Wednesday were treated to a glimpse of the chip, which will make its debut in 2017.
Details remain thin on the ground, but Intel data centre boss Diane Bryant revealed that the company is working on a next-generation version of the high-end server chip focused on high-performance machine learning and AI.
Bryant said that the Xeon Phi chips will run at "comparable levels of performance" to Nvidia’s graphics processing units.
However, Nvidia disputed this claim and criticised Intel for publishing incorrect "facts" about the Xeon Phi chips and their deep learning processing credentials compared with Nvidia's GPU offerings.
Intel ignored this, saying that Knights Mill "is optimised for scale-out analytics implementations, and will include key enhancements for deep learning training. For today’s machine learning applications, the large memory size of the Intel Xeon Phi processor family helps customers like Baidu make it easier to train their models efficiently."
Chinese web firm Baidu said that it plans to use the upcoming Xeon Phi chips in data centres being built for the company's 'deep speech' platform.
Jing Wang, senior vice president at Baidu, said: "The next era is the era of AI. It is technology that changes people’s lives."
The company's cloud-based service enables businesses to build and deploy applications that make use of deep learning, and Nervana has also developed a custom processor, known as an ASIC, especially for deep learning.
Bryant said at the time: "Nervana’s engine and silicon expertise will advance Intel's AI portfolio and enhance the deep learning performance and TCO of Intel Xeon and Xeon Phi processors."
The unveiling was just one of many at the event, which also included Intel's move into the world of virtual reality with the launch of Project Alloy, the first "completely contained” head-mounted display.
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