Intel Unleashes Xeon Phi Standalone Processors To Fuel AI And Machine Learning: Here's The Deal


Intel has launched the new-generation of the Xeon Phi processors that are aimed at the High Performance Computing (HPC) segment.

Intel announced the standalone Xeon Phi processors in November 2015 and they are finally available to customers. The latest processors from Intel feature double-precision performance in excess of 3 teraflops. All the new processors incorporate 16 GB of MCDRAM memory, which the company suggests is five times more power efficient as GDDR5.

The Xeon Phi processors are the company's first bootable host processor and they are designed especially for highly parallel workloads.

"It is also the first to integrate both memory and fabric technologies. A bootable x86 CPU, the Intel Xeon Phi processor offers greater scalability and is capable of handling a wider variety of workloads and configurations than accelerator products," says Intel.

The Xeon Phi processors are expected to fuel deep learning artificial intelligence (AI). Reports suggest that many internet-based companies are using AI that understand images and speech. The Xeon Phi processors could be helpful to these companies.

One of the biggest challenges for AI researchers is to find a way to train neural networks much faster. The latest Xeon Phi chip could partly solve this problem. Nidhi Chappell, the director of machine learning for Intel's Data Center Group, says that with the Xeon Phi processors, researchers can design a training system on their computers and keep using it as they expand to larger networks of servers and then use it at a bigger scale in the cloud.

Intel customers are already appreciating the Xeon Phi processors.

"The Intel Xeon Phi processor is at the forefront of CPU architectures poised to open the door to Exascale systems. The introduction of the MCDRAM, the massive number of threads and the compute power coming from the SIMD units make Intel Xeon Phi processors the right solution to begin modernizing our codes and prepare the future," Didier Juvin, HPC & Numerical Simulation Program Director at CEA/DAM, says (PDF).

Intel has already started the sale of the Xeon Phi processors in limited quantities. Widespread availability of the new processors will start in September. Intel has sold thousands of the older generation Xeon Phi processors and the company hopes that the new-generation processors will be welcomed well in the market.

Intel is expecting to sell more than 100,000 Xeon Phi processors within 2016. It remains to be seen if the company can achieve the sales target for its latest processors.

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