Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

Summary: Intel's Knights Corner processor highlights how a huge system from 1997 can now be crammed on a single chip breaking the 1 teraflop mark. Now what?

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Intel on Tuesday demonstrated a single 50-core chip that is the first to break the 1 teraflop barrier. This chip, dubbed Knight Corner, is the first commercial processor based on Intel's Many Integrated Core architecture.

Rajeeb Hazra, general manager of technical computing, Intel data center and the connected systems group, outlined the company's plans to remain the top supercomputer dog at SC11 in Seattle.

Intel was touting its Xeon E5 family, which supports PCI Express 3.0 I/O integration and powers 10 supercomputers on the Top 500 list.

The broader theme from Intel is that Knights Corner highlights how a huge system from 1997 can now be crammed on a single chip. Knight Corner will be manufactured with Intel's 3-D Tri-Gate 22nm process and features more than 50 cores.

Intel's big plan is to get to exascale computing in 2018. Exascale computing would be a thousand times faster than petascale, the ability to operate beyond a petaflop. The petaflop is one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

To that end, Intel has four labs in Europe---Paris, Julich, Leuven and Barcelona---to focus on performance, reliability, simulation and visualization and tools and algorithms. Exascale computing will need multiple disciplines---interconnects, power management, reliability, memory, parallel software and processors---to come together.

The demonstration of a 1 teraflop chip is notable, but Intel really needs a better story to tell. I got a briefing on Intel's supercomputer happenings and the storyline broke down like this.

  • We have one chip that is the first to break the teraflop barrier.
  • It's the foundation for high performance computing for years.
  • It's exascale or bust.

To Intel, this Knights Corner chip was huge. However, I'm moving beyond the performance storyline---especially given the good-enough-technology trend. Historically speaking, Intel's answer for everything is better performance, more muscle and manufacturing breakthroughs. Intel does it well. But in the end, I want the narrative. What exactly is possible with exascale computing? I'm just not bright enough to know what's possible and need the possibilities pointed out. A few key questions:

  • Does exascale computing lead to Skynet?
  • What algorithm possibilities are enabled by exascale computing?
  • What are the artificial intelligence implications?
  • And what are the scientific possibilities?

Too often with technology vendors we get the breakthrough but not the possibilities. I'm sure Intel's Knights Corner development will be a huge over time, but I increasingly want a narrative to connect the dots.

Related:

Topics: Intel, Hardware, Networking, Processors

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51 comments
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  • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

    Are you questioning the need or fueling technology paranoia? Skynet! Are you kidding?
    jgoode@...
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @jgoode@...

      Paranoia? People watch too many movies -- computers become self-aware in one moment and then want to destroy us in the second. Why is that?
      alsw
      • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

        @alsw

        Have you looked around lately?
        No_Ax_to_Grind
      • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

        @alsw You're not reading your Dilbert calendar, are you? The spam filter became self aware, and, today, Alice has her fist of death stuck in the murderous robot.
        ben.reynolds
      • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

        @alsw, Perhaps they will find humans as annoying as do I.
        nightwatch@...
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @jgoode@...

      Just think of any Supercomputer like Deep Throat or a similar one out of the top 500 list - but without the necessity of an unhandy power plant...
      Barboelsch
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @jgoode@...
      If it's made using outdated x86 technology, sky net will be impossible.
      Bakabaka
      • Of course.

        @Bakabaka

        The operative question was:
        "Does exascale computing lead to Skynet?"

        Thats 'LEAD' to Skynet. Like some several generations down the line once someone discovers an A.I. compatible type of programming. Imagine throwing the switch for the first time on that system. Not knowing exactly what it would do, and it certainly would be able to speak. What would you say, and how would you answer if you were the one to hear the first words once the thing was turned on, when you hear the words "Hello. What is this?...What am I...?"
        Cayble
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @jgoode@... Skynet? I just want to know if it's powerful enough to run Crysis yet?
      thoiness
      • Ha! Run it?

        @thoiness

        It would create it then own it.
        Cayble
  • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

    A GTX 590 can push around 2.5 Teraflops. Its available right now...
    DickCheney777
    • Dual CPU (sorry GPU)

      @DickCheney777 not single chip solution
      thandermax
      • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

        @thandermax GF110 (GTX 580) does 1.5TF
        DickCheney777
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @DickCheney777 <br>that's single precision floating point, this new intel chip offers 1TFLOP double precision which Nvidia can't touch...
      korel31
      • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

        @korel31 Are you sure? Then it's quite low, Radeon 6990 can do over 5 TFLOPs in single precision and over 1 TFLOP in double.
        MadDonkey
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @DickCheney777 Exactly, it's comparable to current GPUs.
      MadDonkey
    • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

      @DickCheney777<br>Um, no.<br>That is a GPU, and as such, has no real comparative value for CPU speed comparisons. The entire architecture of a GPU, including pipeline length, branch prediction hardware, etc., does not lend itself at all to general purpose computing, which is why they aren't rushing to build GPU-powered computers.<br>Clock ratings for GPUs and FP op counts do not give a complete picture of a devices speed. 1TF in a general purpose CPU is a BIG deal.
      .DeusExMachina.
  • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

    If you became self aware and noted that the current apex predator (humans) spent 1 billion on teletubbies...well I'd nuke us also.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/26/business/media/26adcol.html
    rgor@...
    • Who knows...

      @rgor@...

      That might be all it takes.
      Cayble
  • RE: Intel's 1 teraflop chip, exascale computing needs better story

    it seems that your first question about Skynet might provide enough narrative to answer the last two questions... It does seem that it is getting into outer space numbers where the words for the distances really don't say how far apart things are. The question of "What does it all mean?" is very valid.
    chrisadams@...