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Intel's most powerful chip ever packs emerging technologies

Agam Shah | June 24, 2014
Intel hopes to take hardware performance to the next level with its latest Xeon Phi supercomputing chip, which packs an array of new hardware technologies that could ultimately find their way to laptops and desktops.

Knights Landing has 16GB of the new memory type, which should be key in speeding up supercomputing applications, Hazra said. The modules on the board have stacked memory chips linked through a wire-like connection called Through Silicon Via (TSV), which brings performance advantages.

Embedded on the supercomputing chip is DDR4 memory, which can be used as cache or conventional system memory for less-demanding applications.

The new chip also offers a new interconnect called OmniScale, which is designed for high-performance computing, Hazra said. The 'fabric' will be a host interface for faster data transfers between processors, memory and other components.

Key details on the OmniScale interconnect were not revealed by Intel, but it will scale better than Infiniband technology, which Intel is already working to integrate on its chips. Hazra clarified that OmniScale was not Infiniband, but based on some other technology. Intel has made a number of acquisitions to build out its networking and on-chip connectivity technology, including networking hardware company Fulcrum Microsystems and interconnect technologies from Qlogic and Cray.

Intel hopes to bring OmniScale to its Xeon server chips next year, but isn't stopping there, Hazra said. The company will also bring silicon photonics technology, which will boost data transfers between servers through the use of lights and lasers. Intel has already demonstrated thin fiber optics cables and a server connector called MXC.

Right now supercomputers use different chips like CPUs and graphics processors to speed up complex science and math calculations. With Knights Landing, Intel wants to bring everything on to a single chip package, which could boost performance while reducing power consumption, Hazra said.

"It obviates the need for a co-processor and accelerator," Hazra said. "We are putting a very powerful choice on the table."

 

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