Intel Xeon Phi co-processor simplifies supercomputing

Intel Xeon Phi co-processor simplifies supercomputing

Summary: Intel announces 1 TeraFLOP performance from a single PCIe card

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Intel today unveiled the new name and production schedule details for their Xeon family Many Integrated Cores Architecture (MIC) co-processor that was previously shown under the codename "Knight's Corner" which is now known as the Xeon Phi. The new coprocessors are available in a PCIe form factor, taking advantage of the latest generation of Intel's Xeon family processors and motherboards direct support of PCIe 3.0.

Last year Intel showcased a single pre-production Phi unit that was able to deliver just over 1 TeraFLOP double precision floating point performance. They really like this number, using the graphic below to demonstrate the difference between 2012 and their first TeraFLOP capable computer, in 1997.

The single connection, two slot wide PCIe card holds the 50+ core Phi processor and a minimum of 8 GB of GDDR5 memory. The MIC coprocessor is produced using Intel's 22nm, 3-D tri-gate transistor technology. While the Phi was used in a new supercomputer that was ranked as the 149th fastest in the world today, production quantities of the co-processor won't be available until sometime later this year.

The Xeon processor is currently found in 70% of the top 500 supercomputers in the world and the first generation Xeon Phi is complementary to that, being optimized for highly parallel supercomputing tasks.  Highly parallel applications are in use in the business world in forms of weather prediction, oil exploration, pharma modeling, and a number of other surprising common applications. Future generations of the coprocessor will likely be targeted at other current Xeon markets; traditional datacenter and high-end workstation workloads.

At their announcement today at the International Supercomputing conference, Intel had more than 40 partners on board with commitments to make use of the Xeon Phi in their supercomputer roadmaps. And note that these are commercial partners, not the academic "build your own" one-offs that are some of the best known supercomputing efforts. High performance computing is still under the radar for most users, but the benefits that it brings, as it expands beyond the current application market, driven in part by products like the Xeon Phi, will begin to get pushed down to the more traditional server-based applications in the near future.

Topics: Intel, CXO, Hardware, Processors, Servers

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9 comments
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  • eh?

    what was that crack about academic BYO "one-offs"? academia is no more, and probably actually less risk-seeking when putting together clusters. most clusters are bought from vendors - it doesn't really matter whether the accelerator card is integrated by the vendor or not.
    markhahn
    • It's not a crack

      Lots of academic institutions have built some amazing supercomputers on a relatively shoestring budget. I've written about them in the past.

      But there is a financial difference to vendors who are focused on business computing as opposed to academic. My apologies if you took that in a negative way; it's meant solely to differentiate the potential $$$$ in business supercomputing for the vendors.
      David Chernicoff
  • Future of gaming

    Will this thing have any impact on gaming? What do you people say?
    ameet148@...
    • Gaming my Foot!

      There are more important problems in the world to tackle than game-heads taking some flag or the other! The technology will trickle down but not the main focus, you can get Lenovo, Dell and Toshiba laptops for that, don't see why we would need to waste time, money and energy to build peta-flop gaming machines!
      BKamron
  • how much???

    could I put one in BOTH pci e slots??
    sparkle farkle
    • Crossfire Intel Xeon Phi

      yousa any anandtech benchmarks ?
      preferred user
  • Got me wondering

    I wonder how long until someone runs SETI at home on this card? I imagine that they could rack up some impressive stats with it. :)
    ExCorpGuy
  • Architecture?

    Intel has been running in a certain architecture road, CISC processors, opposed to RISC processors that were less energy consuming per operationand very powerful. They were de Power_PC (Apple's), and are the nVidia and ARM processors base, if I'm not mistaken.
    And what about this new Xeon processors?
    Gonzalo_VC
  • It is about time they caught on to ATI and NVidia.

    It is about time they caught on to ATI and NVidia. I remember a Chinese supercomputing cluster using multiple NVidia CUDA graphics cards at least three years ago.
    Steve__Jobs