Menu
Intel's Knights Mill mega-chip to take on GPUs in AI

Intel's Knights Mill mega-chip to take on GPUs in AI

Intel's Knights Mill chip will be available for servers and workstations in 2017

Intel has pulled open the curtain on a secretly developed mega-chip called Knights Mill, a key component in its artificial-intelligence strategy.

The chip -- which belongs to the family of high-performance Xeon Phi processors -- gives Intel a legitimate opportunity to tackle machine learning. It is targeted at servers and workstations, and will be available in 2017.

Intel was caught off-guard with the emergence of artificial intelligence as a way to analyze and present data. Knights Mill, introduced on Wednesday at the ongoing Intel Developer Forum, will fill a big hole in company's chip lineup.

Knights Mill is a "next generation" Xeon Phi chip, Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said during a keynote at IDF.

Based on what Intel has said so far, the chip will have stacked memory and fast throughput, but more detailed information won't be revealed for a while. It's a new kind of Xeon Phi chip, and it won't succeed the recent Knights Landing supercomputing chip.

The goal with Knights Mill is to create a chip that can calculate quickly and make decisions based on probabilities and associations, said Jason Waxman, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Solutions Group, in an interview.

The chips will have many cores, and make approximations using learning models and algorithms, Waxman said.

The new chip is not to be confused with Intel's next-generation supercomputing chip called Knights Hill, which doesn't have a release date yet. The Knights Mill chip won't upset the release of Knights Hill, which was first outlined in late 2014 and will succeed the recent Knights Landing chip, which has up to 72 cores and was released earlier this year.

With Knights Mill, Intel finally has a chip to take on the dominance of Nvidia's GPUs in machine learning, which allow software to be trained to do tasks like image recognition and data analysis more efficiently. Google has also developed its own Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), which is used alongside GPUs in machine learning.

But there's a difference between Knights Mill and competitive chips. Knights Mill will be a primary chip, meaning it'll be able boot up computers. That will give it an advantage over Google's TPU and Nvidia's GPU, which are co-processors and still need CPUs to work in servers or workstations.

The chip also gives a big boost to Intel's AI strategy, which is still coming together. Intel last week announced plans to acquire Nervana Systems, which offers deep-learning software and chip technology, for an estimated $350 million.

The Nervana acquisition brings talent, intellectual property and also most importantly, software, which will be optimized to work with Knights Mill, Waxman said.

High-performance chips typically focus on double-precision performance for more accurate calculations, but Knights Mill is designed differently. The chip's cores focus on "low precision calculations," which can be stringed together for approximations that can help the chip make a decision. The low-precision calculations help create powerful, and power-efficient, neural network clusters.

The Knights Mill design also brings more floating point performance to calculations, which is important in machine learning, Waxman said.

Intel is advancing its AI roadmap at a frantic pace, and Knights Mill is a leap forward, Waxman said.

Many machine learning models are being used in data centers. Beyond its homegrown software stack, Intel could make Xeon Phi compatible with different machine-learning models like the open-source Caffe and Google's TensorFlow.

Intel has shown a willingness to collaborate. Intel is working with Baidu on a "Deep Speech" speech recogntion technology with its Xeon Phi platform, Waxman said.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags intel

Featured

Slideshows

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel

​As the channel changes and industry voices deepen, the need for clarity and insight heightens. Market misconceptions talk of an “under pressure” distribution space, with competitors in that fateful “race for relevance” across New Zealand. Amidst the cliched assumptions however, distribution is once again showing its strength, as a force to be listened to, rather than questioned. Traditionally, the role was born out of a need for vendors and resellers to find one another, acting as a bridge between the testing lab and the marketplace. Yet despite new technologies and business approaches shaking the channel to its very core, distributors remain tied to the epicentre - providing the voice of reason amidst a seismic industry shift. In looking across both sides of the vendor and partner fences, the middle concept of the three-tier chain remains centrally placed to understand the metrics of two differing worlds, as the continual pulse checkers of the local channel. This exclusive Reseller News Roundtable, in association with Dicker Data and rhipe, examined the pivotal role of distribution in understanding the health of the channel, educating from the epicentre as the market transforms at a rapid rate.

Educating from the epicentre - Why distributors are the pulse checkers of the channel
Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017

After Hours made a welcome return to the channel social calendar last night, with a bumper crowd of distributors, vendors and resellers descending on The Jefferson in Auckland to kickstart 2017. Photos by Maria Stefina.

Kiwi channel reunites as After Hours kicks off 2017
Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Show Comments