Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Intel Xeon Gets Graphics Boost as Video Floods Datacenters 

Intel Xeon E7 v3

A day after announcing it would integrate FPGAs with its Xeon processor to create a datacenter-focused system-on-chip, Intel rolled a new version of it Xeon processor family with new datacenter graphics capabilities.

Intel said its Xeon E3-1200 v4 family would integrate its Iris Pro graphics capability aimed at "visually intensive, cloud-based workloads" like video transcoding and 3-D graphics.

The chipmaker also unveiled and expanded line of silicon and software designed to flesh out it growing family of Internet of Things (IoT) building blocks. The products were introduced at this week's Computex 2015 event in Taiwan.

The package of datacenter and IoT products follow Intel's announcement on Monday (June 1) that it would acquire FPGA vendor Altera Corp. for $16.7 billion in cash. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Intel would move quickly to "co-package" Xeon processors and Altera FPGAs in a system that would begin shipping by the end of 2016. Ultimately, Intel wants to integrate Xeon and FPGA's "on die" to support its push into the datacenter.

Intel also plans to integrate FPGAs with its Atom line of processors for IoT applications, Krzanich added. Such a move could effectively replace ASICs, allowing users to program their own applications, Intel argues.

Meanwhile, the chipmaker sees an opening to sell more Xeon processors in the datacenter as IT infrastructure strains under the weight of soaring demand for online video streaming. Intel estimates that video traffic will account for 80 percent of Internet traffic in datacenters by 2018.

"To keep pace with current and future growth in these graphics-intensive workloads, datacenter operators are looking to optimize their datacenter computing solutions specifically to handle an ever-growing influx of graphics-intensive traffic," Jim Blakley, Intel's visual cloud computing general manager, noted in a blog post.

Blakley added that several cloud vendors are designing datacenter systems around the new Xeon E3-1200 v4 processor family, including Cisco System, Hewlett-Packard and server and storage vendor QCT (Quanta Cloud Technology).

Intel also said the latest generation Xeon processor is built on its 14-nm process technology and claims it boosts video transcoding by a factor of 1.4 and up to 1.8x for 3-D graphics performance.

Also at the Computex chip conference, Intel announced a batch of IoT initiatives built around Atom and earlier processors. Among them was an IoT gateway reference design that includes silicon and software. Among them are Core processor-based gateways and an intelligent device platform developed by Intel's Wind River embedded software unit.

The chipmaker also said it was expanding the operating system options for its IoT gateway reference designs by adding Ubuntu Snappy Core from Canonical, the maker of the Ubuntu distribution of Linux.

Along with its plans to integrate FPGAs with Atoms processors for IoT applications, Intel also announced new versions of older Pentium and Celeron processors for IoT applications like medical and retail.

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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