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Monday, June 23, 2014
Intel Details Next-Generation Xeon Phi Processor with Integrated Omni Scale Fabric

Intel today announced a new new microarchitecture and memory details of the next-generation Intel Xeon Phi processor (code-named Knights Landing), scheduled to power HPC systems in the second half of 2015, along with the Intel Omni Scale Fabric– an end-to-end interconnect for fast data transfers.

The company unveiled its many-integrated core (MIC) roadmap at the International Supercomputer Conference (ISC-14) in Leipzig, Germany, June 22-26.

The company talked about its next-generation Intel Xeon Phi processors, code-named Knights Landing, which promise to extend the benefits of code modernization investments being made for current generation products. These include a new high-speed fabric that will be integrated on-package and high-bandwidth, on-package memory that combined, promise to accelerate the rate of scientific discovery.

The new interconnect technology, called Intel Omni Scale Fabric, is designed to address the requirements of the next generations of high-performance computing (HPC). It will be integrated in the next generation of Intel Xeon Phi processors as well as future general-purpose Intel Xeon processors. iNtel says this integration along with the fabric's HPC-optimized architecture is designed to address the performance, scalability, reliability, power and density requirements of future HPC deployments.

Intel Omni Scale fabric is built upon a combination of acquired IP from Cray and QLogic, and Intel's own in-house innovations. It will include a full product line offering consisting of adapters, edge switches, director switch systems, and open-source fabric management and software tools. Additionally, traditional electrical transceivers in the director switches in today's fabrics will be replaced by Intel Silicon Photonics-based solutions, enabling increased port density, simplified cabling and reduced costs. Intel Silicon Photonics-based cabling and transceiver solutions may also be used with Intel Omni Scale-based processors, adapter cards and edge switches.

"Intel is re-architecting the fundamental building block of HPC systems by integrating the Intel Omni Scale Fabric into Knights Landing, marking a significant inflection and milestone for the HPC industry," said Charles Wuischpard, vice president and general manager of Workstations and HPC at Intel. "Knights Landing will be the first true many-core processor to address today's memory and I/O performance challenges. It will allow programmers to leverage existing code and standard programming models to achieve significant performance gains on a wide set of applications. Its platform design, programming model and balanced performance makes it the first viable step towards exascale."

Knights Landing will be available as a standalone processor mounted directly on the motherboard socket in addition to the PCIe-based card option. The socketed option removes programming complexities and bandwidth bottlenecks of data transfer over PCIe, common in GPU and accelerator solutions. Knights Landing will include up to 16GB high-bandwidth, on-package memory at launch – designed in partnership with Micron – to deliver five times better bandwidth compared to DDR4 memory, five times better energy efficiency and three times more density2 than current GDDR-based memory.

Powered by more than 60 HPC-enhanced Silvermont architecture-based cores, Knights Landing is expected to deliver more than 3 TFLOPS of double-precision performance and three times the single-threaded performance compared with the current generation. As a standalone server processor, Knights Landing will support DDR4 system memory comparable in capacity and bandwidth to Intel Xeon processor-based platforms, enabling applications that have a much larger memory footprint. Knights Landing will also be binary-compatible with Intel Xeon processors.

Both Knights Landing and Intel Omni Scale Fabric controllers will be also available as separate PCIe-based add-on cards. There is application compatibility between currently available Intel True Scale Fabric and future Intel Omni Scale Fabric, so Intel's customers will be able to transition to new fabric technology without change to their applications. For all those purchasing Intel True Scale Fabric today, Intel will offer a program to upgrade to Intel Omni Scale Fabric when it's available.

Knights Landing processors are scheduled to power HPC systems in the second half of 2015.

To help optimize applications for many-core processing, Intel has also established more than 30 Intel Parallel Computing Centers (IPCC) in cooperation with universities and research facilities around the world.

Regarding Micron's Hybrid Memory Cube technology, it will be available as an alternative to DRAM modules starting in the first quarter next year. It promises to provide 15 times more bandwidth than conventional DDR3 DRAM modules, and draws 70 percent less energy. It is also provides five times more bandwidth than the emerging DDR4 memory, while consuming significantly less amounts of energy.

With HMC, the memory modules are placed as stacked chips in cubes as opposed to being placed flat next to each other on a motherboard. The stacked memory chips are linked through a wire-like connection called Through Silicon Via (TSV), which brings performance advantages over traditional DRAM.

Motherboards will ship with HMC soldered on boards next to the CPU or other processing units.

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