Intel showed off Many Integrated Core Knights Corner Teraflop Chip

HPCWire – At SC11 in Seattle, Intel showed off an early silicon version of Intel’s Many Integrated Core (MIC) “Knight Corner,” the codename for its first commercial product based on their MIC architecture. Intel has produced “a few tens of chips” for early testing. According to Hazra, they were manufactured at one of their fabs using their 22nm process technology.

This is the first general-purpose chip in history that is able to hit the one teraflop mark. And while that is true, it should be noted that NVIDIA’s “Kepler” GPU, which is likely to be in production prior to Knights Corner, will probably deliver somewhere between 1.2 to 1.4 double precision teraflops, or about twice that of the current Fermi-class Tesla GPUs.

PC World – Intel also used SC11 to push its new Xeon E5 server chip, which is being used in 10 of the Top500 supercomputers, the company said. The E5 chips are the fastest-ramping server chips in Intel’s history, and the company has 400 design wins around the processor, Curley said.

The chip enables many new technologies to boost server performance. The chip is the first to integrate support for PCI-Express 3.0, which will boost on-board bandwidth to scale server performance. The bus standard can transfer data at speeds of 8 gigatransfers per second, a 60 percent improvement over PCI-Express 2.0, which is currently found in servers.

A combination of future Xeon and many integrated core chips seems to be the likely approach for Intel to try to scale to exaflop systems in 2018.

The production Knights Corner chips delivered in a year or so may actually end up delivering something north of one teraflop, so it’s not a given that NVIDIA will win the flops battle in 2012. In any case, Intel is probably not overly concerned about absolute performance. It’s made a good case that the programming model for MIC will be the real differentiator here.

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