VR Zone – Intel is releaseing the first Many Integrated Core, chips, aka the ‘Knights’ line. The first MIC to be offered to the discerning public, in a limited quantity for a sort of pilot introduction, is ‘Knights Corner’, basically a GPU-like PCIe accelerator card with a 22-nm process MIC chip that integrates some 50 cores for roughly 1 TFLOPs DP FP performance, or nearly 6 times that of the Xeon E5 top processor bin right now, within a similar power budget – a critical point required to get to, say, Petaflop within 10 racks now, or Exaflop level performance within a single datacentre size and power budget in 2018.
The thing that differentiates MIC from ATI or Nvidia GPGPUs is that it’s front end is a X86 core, therefore the same programming model can apply for both the main CPU and the accelerator, rather than resorting to OpenCL or CUDA. On the other hand, the first MIC cores are based on a 64-bit enhanced version of the 16 year old Pentium that fronts a very wide SIMD FP unit, whose dual-issue in-order instruction approach limits the maximum achievable FP rates. Intel will surely fix that in the next round, but using the X86 as a front end, with all the associated baggage, remains a double-edged sword.
Many Integrated Core chip