Intel’s Xeon Phi – GPU level power without the hassle?
Intel have finally released the Xeon Phi – an accelerator card based on 60 or so customised Intel cores to give around a Teraflop of double precision performance. That’s comparable to the latest cards from NVIDIA (1.3 Teraflops according to http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/12/nvidia_tesla_k20_k20x_gpu_coprocessors/) but with one key difference—you don’t need to learn any new languages or technologies to take advantage of it (although you can do so if you wish)!
The Xeon Phi uses good, old fashioned High Performance Computing technologies that we’ve been using for years such as OpenMP and MPI. There’s no need to completely recode your algorithms in CUDA or OpenCL to get a performance boost…just a sprinkling of OpenMP pragmas might be enough in many cases. Obviously it will take quite a bit of work to squeeze every last drop of performance out of the thing but this might just be the realisation of ‘personal supercomputer’ we’ve all been waiting for.
Here are some links I’ve found so far — would love to see what everyone else has come up with. I’ll update as I find more
- http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/12/intel_xeon_phi_coprocessor_launch/ (Includes pricing and some benchmarks)
- http://www.streamcomputing.eu/blog/2012-11-12/intels-answer-to-amd-and-nvidia-the-xeon-phi-5110p/ (lots of details, programming models and comparisons with GPUs)
- http://software.intel.com/en-us/blogs/2012/11/12/introducing-opencl-12-for-intel-xeon-phi-coprocessor (Intel’s OpenCL works on Xeon Phi)
- http://www.hpcwire.com/hpcwire/2012-11-12/nag_delivers_numerical_software_to_xeon_phi.html (My favourite numerical library has already been ported to the Phi)
I also note that the Xeon Phi uses AVX extensions but with a wider vector width of 512 bytes so if you’ve been taking advantage of that technology in your code (using one of these techniques perhaps) you’ll reap the benefits there too.
I, for one, am very excited and can’t wait to get my hands on one! Thoughts, comments and links gratefully received!