Intel’s Third-generation Xeon Scalable CPUs supply 16-bit FPU processing

Intel right now announced its third-generation Xeon Scalable (which means Gold and Platinum) processors, together with new generations of its Optane persistent reminiscence (learn: extraordinarily low-latency, high-endurance SSD) and Stratix AI FPGA merchandise.

The truth that AMD is at the moment beating Intel on nearly each conceivable efficiency metric besides hardware-accelerated AI is not information at this level. It is clearly not information to Intel, both, for the reason that firm made no claims in any respect about Xeon Scalable’s efficiency versus competing Epyc Rome processors. Extra curiously, Intel hardly talked about general-purpose computing workloads in any respect.

Discovering a proof of the one non-AI generation-on-generation enchancment proven wanted leaping by way of a number of footnotes. With enough dedication, we finally found that the “1.9X average performance gain” talked about on the overview slide refers to “estimated or simulated” SPECrate 2017 benchmarks evaluating a four-socket Platinum 8380H system to a five-year-old, four-socket E7-8890 v3.

To be honest, Intel does appear to have launched some unusually spectacular improvements within the AI house. “Deep Learning Boost,” which formally was simply branding for the AVX-512 instruction set, now encompasses a completely new 16-bit floating level information kind as effectively.

With earlier generations of Xeon Scalable, Intel pioneered and pushed closely for utilizing 8-bit integer—INT8—inference processing with its OpenVINO library. For inference workloads, Intel argued that the decrease accuracy of INT8 was acceptable typically, whereas providing excessive acceleration of the inference pipeline. For coaching, nevertheless, most functions nonetheless wanted the larger accuracy of FP32 32-bit floating level processing.

The brand new era provides 16-bit floating level processor help, which Intel is looking bfloat16. Slicing FP32 fashions’ bit-width in half accelerates processing itself, however extra importantly, halves the RAM wanted to maintain fashions in reminiscence. Profiting from the brand new information kind can be less complicated for programmers and codebases utilizing FP32 fashions than conversion to integer could be.

Intel additionally thoughtfully supplied a sport revolving across the BF16 information kind’s effectivity. We can not advocate it both as a sport or as an academic instrument.

Optane storage acceleration

Intel additionally introduced a brand new, 25 percent-faster era of its Optane “persistent memory” SSDs, which can be utilized to vastly speed up AI and different storage pipelines. Optane SSDs function on 3D Xpoint know-how moderately than the NAND flash typical SSDs do. 3D Xpoint has tremendously larger write endurance and decrease latency than NAND does. The decrease latency and larger write endurance makes it notably enticing as a quick caching know-how, which may even speed up all solid-state arrays.

The massive takeaway right here is that Optane’s extraordinarily low latency permits acceleration of AI pipelines—which often bottleneck on storage—by providing very fast entry to fashions too giant to maintain totally in RAM. For pipelines which contain fast, heavy writes, an Optane cache layer also can considerably enhance the life expectancy of the NAND main storage beneath it, by lowering the full variety of writes which should truly be dedicated to it.

Latency vs. IOPS, with a 70/30 read/write workload. The orange and green lines are data center-grade traditional NAND SSDs; the blue line is Optane.
Enlarge / Latency vs. IOPS, with a 70/30 learn/write workload. The orange and inexperienced traces are information center-grade conventional NAND SSDs; the blue line is Optane.

For instance, a 256GB Optane has a 360PB write-endurance spec, whereas a Samsung 850 Professional 256GB SSD is simply specced for 150TB endurance—larger than a 1,000:1 benefit to Optane.

In the meantime, this glorious Tom’s {Hardware} evaluation from 2019 demonstrates simply how far within the mud Optane leaves conventional information center-grade SSDs when it comes to latency.

Stratix 10 NX FPGAs

Lastly, Intel introduced a brand new model of its Stratix FPGA. Area Gate Programmable Arrays can be utilized as {hardware} acceleration for some workloads, permitting extra of the general-purpose CPU cores to sort out duties that the FPGAs cannot.

Itemizing picture by Intel

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