Intel Launches ‘Knights Landing’ Phi Family for HPC, Machine Learning

By Tiffany Trader

June 21, 2016

From ISC 2016 in Frankfurt, Germany, this week, Intel Corp. launched the second-generation Xeon Phi product family, formerly code-named Knights Landing, aimed at HPC and machine learning workloads. The company had been shipping “Knights Landing” silicon to early customers for the last six months and was waiting to ramp up production before making the product generally available.

The window also gave OEMs time to complete their readiness, said Intel’s Charlie Wuischpard, vice president of the Data Center Group and general manager of High Performance Computing Platform Group, in a media pre-briefing. Those OEMs include the usual names: Cray, HPE, Lenovo, Dell and others.

The most distinguishing feature of the chip is that it’s a bootable host CPU — unlike its predecessor “Knights Corner,” which is a coprocessor that connects over PCIe. “We’re not just a specialized programming model,” said Intel’s General Manager, HPC Compute and Networking, Barry Davis in a hand-on technical demo held at ISC. “We’re the full IA programming model. There’s no PCIe bottleneck; there’s a limitation in the data that you can send back and forth from the host CPU to the accelerator or coprocessor and we removed that bottleneck.”

The “Knights Landing” Phi will be the first chip to offer an integrated fabric, Intel’s Omni-Path Architecture (OPA), in the package. “Knights Landing” also puts integrated on-package memory in a processor, which benefits memory bandwidth and overall application performance. A six-channel memory controller supports up to 384 GB of DDR4-2400 memory (~90GB/s sustained bandwidth). There are 36 PCI Express 3.0 lanes for connecting to PCIe coprocessors, PCIe SSDs or discrete graphics cards.

The second-generation Phi is based on an Intel Atom core (based on the Silvermont microarchitecture) with many HPC enhancements. The MIC (Many Integrated Cores) design fits 8 billion transistors on a die, using 14 nm process technology. The new Phi family introduces the AVX-512 instruction set, which will be available on future Xeon processors. Both the Phi and the Xeon are binary compatible and a benefit of this is that the optimizations that apply to one platform typically carry to the other, notes Intel.

Intel emphasizes that the Phi is designed to run any workload, any IA code. “There are workloads out there that are single thread that maybe benefit from higher frequency and fewer cores and of course you would run those on a Xeon but it doesn’t mean those applications won’t still run on a Xeon Phi,” said Wuischpard. “Some of our early customers are implementing an entire supercomputing cluster with Xeon Phi. Others are doing a mix of Xeon and Xeon Phi and there are a lot of configurations that are possible within a given system deployment.”

As previously announced, the Phi product family comes in three variants: a PCIe coprocessor form factor; a stand-alone CPU; and a stand-alone CPU with integrated Omni-Path fabric technology. The SKU stack that Intel is launching includes four parts with different core counts, frequencies, TDPs and price points.

There are three parts shipping now: the 68-core 7250 (1.4 Ghz), the 64-core 7230 (1.3 Ghz) and the 64-core 7210 (1.3 Ghz). The TDP on all of these is 215 watts. The top-bin part – the Xeon Phi 7290 – is the promised 72-core version. The $6,250 SKU runs at 1.5 Ghz and consumes 245 watts of power; it will not be available until September. Integrated fabric versions of all four parts will not be available until October. Powering the fabric will add another 15 watts to the TDP envelope. The coprocessor card will be available in the second half the year, according to Intel.

Intel KNL Phi SKU list

“You can think of it as the 7200-series Xeon processor,” said Wuischpard, “You’ll see that all of the memory is 16 GBs across the board. We had originally talked about having a richer matrix of SKUs that ranged from no in-package memory to 16 GB of memory and then across these ranges of performance and it just looked too busy and too complex, and in the end everyone wants that in-package memory so we decided to shrink the SKU stack and make it easier to understand. And it does make it easier from a manufacturing perspective.”

The Xeon 7290 is a premium product with a premium price. This is by design since it’s relatively low-yielding, according to Intel. “Most of our early customers and this includes the large research labs and institutions have really focused on the 7230 and the 7250 to get the best price/performance. And we expect the 7210 will be the more general purpose high-running part,” said Wuishpard, adding that it offers 85-90 percent of the performance at less than half the price of the top-end part.

The self-hosted Phi processor competes directly with Tesla GPUs from Nvidia with both products targeting HPC and machine learning and visualization. At its GTC16 event, NVIDIA announced the NVLink-based Pascal GPU. The NVLink point-to-point interconnect’s advantage is enabling data sharing at rates five to 12 times faster than traditional PCI Express Gen 3.0. Currently, the NVLink-based P100 is only available to customers who shell out the $129,000 for NVIDIA’s “deep learning supercomputer,” the DGX-1, but the standalone NVLink-based P100 is expected to hit production availability early 2017.

Intel talks about scalability as being a big difference between a GPU card and Xeon Phi. “With GPU cards, you can only put so many cards in a box,” says Intel’s Barry Davis. “Even with NV-LINK to connect those together, you are still limited in that scale. As you look at the Xeon Phi product line with implementations at thousands of nodes, scalability is a key part of this architecture, and that’s what the market needs today, whether you are talking about machine learning, deep learning or traditional modeling and simulation.”

When it comes to artificial intelligence and deep learning, Intel has published several initial benchmarks claiming performance improvements over GPUs on a number of machine learning workloads.

Intel KNL Phi deep learning-1400x

NVIDIA’s VP, Solutions Architecture and Engineering, Marc Hamilton, said he questions the benchmarks that Intel has released so far, noting that the claims relating to deep learning were done against older versions of GPUs (Kepler) using unoptimized versions of frameworks. [The benchmark breakdown was unavailable on Intel’s site as of press time.] Hamilton also said that the “Knights Landing” does not have the strong node capability of the GPU. NVIDIA GPUs currently scale to 8-way configurations, but the OS will support 16 (recall the K80 has two physical GPUs inside it and the OS will support 8 of these).

There’s also a performance difference between the second-generation Phi and the newest Tesla GPUs. The top bin Knights Landing Phi CPU delivers 3.46 teraflops of double-precision floating point performance. The Pascal P100 GPU for NVLink-optimized servers offers 5.3 teraflops of double-precision floating point performance, and the PCIe version supports 4.7 teraflops of double-precision.

One early customer who has already deployed a Knights Landing Phi-based system is the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Austin at Texas. TACC got the 508 node system – an interim step between Stampede 1 and Stampede 2 – up and running and benchmarked on LINPACK three days after receiving its racks.

TACC Director Dan Stanzione wryly commented that that is not his preferred timeframe, but the result was a 117th place ranking on the latest TOP500 with a LINPACK of 817.8 teraflops. “Obviously the software came up pretty quickly in order to make that happen,” said Stanzione.

“We finished all of our benchmarking,” he continued, “and we’re putting users on it this week and are running our first tutorial on Sunday here at ISC.” The system employs the top-bin-minus-1 68-core Xeon Phi 7250 processor and the Omni-Path fabric.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

University of Stuttgart Inaugurates ‘Hawk’ Supercomputer

February 20, 2020

This week, the new “Hawk” supercomputer was inaugurated in a ceremony at the High-Performance Computing Center of the University of Stuttgart (HLRS). Officials, scientists and other stakeholders celebrated the new sy Read more…

By Staff report

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Indiana University Researchers Use Supercomputing to Model the State’s Largest Watershed

February 20, 2020

With water stressors on the rise, understanding and protecting water supplies is more important than ever. Now, a team of researchers from Indiana University has created a new climate change data portal to help Indianans Read more…

By Staff report

TACC – Supporting Portable, Reproducible, Computational Science with Containers

February 20, 2020

Researchers who use supercomputers for science typically don't limit themselves to one system. They move their projects to whatever resources are available, often using many different systems simultaneously, in their lab Read more…

By Aaron Dubrow

China Researchers Set Distance Record in Quantum Memory Entanglement

February 20, 2020

Efforts to develop the necessary capabilities for building a practical ‘quantum-based’ internet have been ongoing for years. One of the biggest challenges is being able to maintain and manage entanglement of remote q Read more…

By John Russell

AWS Solution Channel

Challenging the barriers to High Performance Computing in the Cloud

Cloud computing helps democratize High Performance Computing by placing powerful computational capabilities in the hands of more researchers, engineers, and organizations who may lack access to sufficient on-premises infrastructure. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Intelligent HPC – Keeping Hard Work at Bay(es)

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked for ways to make their lives easier. Over the centuries human ingenuity has given us inventions such as the wheel and simple machines – which help greatly with tasks that would otherwise be extremely laborious. Read more…

New Algorithm Allows PCs to Challenge HPC in Weather Forecasting

February 19, 2020

Accurate weather forecasting has, by and large, been situated squarely in the domain of high-performance computing – just this week, the UK announced a nearly $1.6 billion investment in the world’s largest supercompu Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

US to Triple Its Supercomputing Capacity for Weather and Climate with Two New Crays

February 20, 2020

The blizzard of news around the race for weather and climate supercomputing leadership continues. Just three days after the UK announced a £1.2 billion plan to build the world’s largest weather and climate supercomputer, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Japan’s AIST Benchmarks Intel Optane; Cites Benefit for HPC and AI

February 19, 2020

Last April Intel released its Optane Data Center Persistent Memory Module (DCPMM) – byte addressable nonvolatile memory – to increase main memory capacity a Read more…

By John Russell

UK Announces £1.2 Billion Weather and Climate Supercomputer

February 19, 2020

While the planet is heating up, so is the race for global leadership in weather and climate computing. In a bombshell announcement, the UK government revealed p Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

The Massive GPU Cloudburst Experiment Plays a Smaller, More Productive Encore

February 13, 2020

In November, researchers at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) and the IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC) set out to break the internet – or Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Eni to Retake Industry HPC Crown with Launch of HPC5

February 12, 2020

With the launch of its Dell-built HPC5 system, Italian energy company Eni regains its position atop the industrial supercomputing leaderboard. At 52-petaflops p Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Trump Budget Proposal Again Slashes Science Spending

February 11, 2020

President Donald Trump’s FY2021 U.S. Budget, submitted to Congress this week, again slashes science spending. It’s a $4.8 trillion statement of priorities, Read more…

By John Russell

Policy: Republicans Eye Bigger Science Budgets; NSF Celebrates 70th, Names Idea Machine Winners

February 5, 2020

It’s a busy week for science policy. Yesterday, the National Science Foundation announced winners of its 2026 Idea Machine contest seeking directions for futu Read more…

By John Russell

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Julia Programming’s Dramatic Rise in HPC and Elsewhere

January 14, 2020

Back in 2012 a paper by four computer scientists including Alan Edelman of MIT introduced Julia, A Fast Dynamic Language for Technical Computing. At the time, t Read more…

By John Russell

Cray, Fujitsu Both Bringing Fujitsu A64FX-based Supercomputers to Market in 2020

November 12, 2019

The number of top-tier HPC systems makers has shrunk due to a steady march of M&A activity, but there is increased diversity and choice of processing compon Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

SC19: IBM Changes Its HPC-AI Game Plan

November 25, 2019

It’s probably fair to say IBM is known for big bets. Summit supercomputer – a big win. Red Hat acquisition – looking like a big win. OpenPOWER and Power processors – jury’s out? At SC19, long-time IBMer Dave Turek sketched out a different kind of bet for Big Blue – a small ball strategy, if you’ll forgive the baseball analogy... Read more…

By John Russell

Intel Debuts New GPU – Ponte Vecchio – and Outlines Aspirations for oneAPI

November 17, 2019

Intel today revealed a few more details about its forthcoming Xe line of GPUs – the top SKU is named Ponte Vecchio and will be used in Aurora, the first plann Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Unveils Latest Achievements in AI Hardware

December 13, 2019

“The increased capabilities of contemporary AI models provide unprecedented recognition accuracy, but often at the expense of larger computational and energet Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

SC19: Welcome to Denver

November 17, 2019

A significant swath of the HPC community has come to Denver for SC19, which began today (Sunday) with a rich technical program. As is customary, the ribbon cutt Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fujitsu A64FX Supercomputer to Be Deployed at Nagoya University This Summer

February 3, 2020

Japanese tech giant Fujitsu announced today that it will supply Nagoya University Information Technology Center with the first commercial supercomputer powered Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

51,000 Cloud GPUs Converge to Power Neutrino Discovery at the South Pole

November 22, 2019

At the dead center of the South Pole, thousands of sensors spanning a cubic kilometer are buried thousands of meters beneath the ice. The sensors are part of Ic Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Leading Solution Providers

SC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

AMD
AMD
ASROCK RACK
ASROCK RACK
AWS
AWS
CEJN
CJEN
CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
IBM
IBM
MELLANOX
MELLANOX
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
SIX NINES IT
SIX NINES IT
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL
WEKAIO
WEKAIO

Jensen Huang’s SC19 – Fast Cars, a Strong Arm, and Aiming for the Cloud(s)

November 20, 2019

We’ve come to expect Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang’s annual SC keynote to contain stunning graphics and lively bravado (with plenty of examples) in support of GPU Read more…

By John Russell

Top500: US Maintains Performance Lead; Arm Tops Green500

November 18, 2019

The 54th Top500, revealed today at SC19, is a familiar list: the U.S. Summit (ORNL) and Sierra (LLNL) machines, offering 148.6 and 94.6 petaflops respectively, Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Azure Cloud First with AMD Epyc Rome Processors

November 6, 2019

At Ignite 2019 this week, Microsoft's Azure cloud team and AMD announced an expansion of their partnership that began in 2017 when Azure debuted Epyc-backed instances for storage workloads. The fourth-generation Azure D-series and E-series virtual machines previewed at the Rome launch in August are now generally available. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Intel’s New Hyderabad Design Center Targets Exascale Era Technologies

December 3, 2019

Intel's Raja Koduri was in India this week to help launch a new 300,000 square foot design and engineering center in Hyderabad, which will focus on advanced com Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Memoriam: Steve Tuecke, Globus Co-founder

November 4, 2019

HPCwire is deeply saddened to report that Steve Tuecke, longtime scientist at Argonne National Lab and University of Chicago, has passed away at age 52. Tuecke Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Debuts IC922 Power Server for AI Inferencing and Data Management

January 28, 2020

IBM today launched a Power9-based inference server – the IC922 – that features up to six Nvidia T4 GPUs, PCIe Gen 4 and OpenCAPI connectivity, and can accom Read more…

By John Russell

Cray Debuts ClusterStor E1000 Finishing Remake of Portfolio for ‘Exascale Era’

October 30, 2019

Cray, now owned by HPE, today introduced the ClusterStor E1000 storage platform, which leverages Cray software and mixes hard disk drives (HDD) and flash memory Read more…

By John Russell

D-Wave’s Path to 5000 Qubits; Google’s Quantum Supremacy Claim

September 24, 2019

On the heels of IBM’s quantum news last week come two more quantum items. D-Wave Systems today announced the name of its forthcoming 5000-qubit system, Advantage (yes the name choice isn’t serendipity), at its user conference being held this week in Newport, RI. Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This