You got your FPGA in my Xeon!

Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2014 - 01:19 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Intel, FPGA

Intel has just revealed what The Register is aptly referring to as the FrankenChip, a hybrid Xeon E5 and FPGA chip.  This will allow large companies to access the power of a Xeon and be able to offload some work onto an FPGA they can program and optimize themselves.  The low power FPGA is actually on the chip, as opposed to Microsoft's recent implementation which saw FPGA's added to PCIe slots.  Intel's solution does not use up a slot and also offers direct access to the Xeon cache hierarchy and system memory via QPI which will allow for increased performance.  Another low power shot has been fired at ARM's attempts to grow their share of the server market but we shall see if the inherent complexity of programming an FPGA to work with an x86 is more or less attractive than switching to ARM.

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"Intel has expanded its chip customization business to help it take on the hazy threat posed by some of the world's biggest clouds adopting low-power ARM processors."

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June 19, 2014 | 05:32 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

You can get a lot of ARM cores for the price of a Xeon, and maybe a FPGA and a ThunderX ARM Processor with 48 cores, could do the trick, FPGAs can be programed in OpenCL and the more cores the better for initial programming and development of FPGAs. For sure ARM processor products paired with FPGA have been around for some time. Intel must be terrified of ARM coming up from the low end, and Power8 coming from above, and is hoping to stave off the onslaught for a while in order to get its bearings. A full Power8 CPU with a Big FPGA and CAPI port/s (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface connecting the two would be the stuff of nightmares for chipzilla, and companies like Google could license the Power8, and have the work done.

"IBM is working with FPGA makers Xilinx and Altera to show the benefits of a hybrid setup running over the CAPI interface, so this is not just about GPU acceleration. Next week at the Impact2014 event, IBM and Xilinx will show a Memcached key value store application being accelerated by FPGAs and showing a factor of 35X better performance and an order of magnitude lower latency. A Monte Carlo simulation running on POWER machines accelerated by Altera FPGAs will show a factor of 200X speedup. Network adapter and switch maker Mellanox Technologies is also working with IBM to show how using Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) with a different key value store application boosted throughput and cut latencies by a factor of 10X."(1)

(1) "What Power8 and OpenPOWER Might Mean for HPC"

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