Intel’s New Programmable Chips Next Year to Replace Aging Products

By Agam Shah

September 27, 2022

Intel shared its latest roadmap of programmable chips, and doesn’t want to dig itself into a hole by following AMD’s strategy in the area.

“We’re thankfully not matching their strategy,” said Shannon Poulin, corporate vice president for the datacenter and AI group at Intel, in response to a question posed by HPCwire during a press briefing.

The updated roadmap pieces together Intel’s strategy for FPGAs, or field programmable gate arrays, in line with its manufacturing advances.

FPGAs can be programmed to carry out a range of functions as AI chips and network acceleration. Companies also use FPGAs to test chip designs or prototype applications.

Intel’s been on a holding pattern on FPGAs, releasing the last major Agilex chip in 2021, which was made on the 10nm SuperFin process.

The next major Agilex product – which is more a manufacturing upgrade – will be released in 2023-2024. The M-series FPGA will be on an upgraded 10nm process, which Intel calls “Intel 7.”

The followup, the next-generation Agilex chip based on a new architecture, will also come in the 2023-2024 timeframe on Intel 7.

Poulin, who took over the FPGA division last year, acknowledged that the company hasn’t kept pace in meeting suppliers’ needs. Intel had neither availability or a portfolio of FPGAs for the low-end market on a modern manufacturing process, Poulin said.

“I really felt like we needed to look at the supply chain. We had many of our products – we still have many of our products – on legacy supply nodes, many of those nodes not made at Intel, and I’m talking about nodes that are, you know, 5-10-20 years old, in some cases,” Poulin said.

Manufacturing services firm Jabil, which integrates chips into projects for industrial clients, has said it expects FPGA shortages to go into 2023.

There’s a big demand for FPGAs in modern equipment in 5G and robotics where cutting edge FPGAs, made on modern processes, is becoming really important, Poulin said.

“We’re moving our whole portfolio over to Intel manufacturing,” he said.

Intel’s making a range of advances in its manufacturing processes, including the use of “chiplet” technology that can package together a range of chips in a single die. Intel is designing an FPGA for that, which brings in PCIe 5.0 and the CXL interconnect, and can be paired with a range of chips, such as AI accelerators, GPUs, or x86 and RISC-V CPUs in one integrated chip. Intel has been sampling that product and will bring them to production soon, Poulin said.

Intel’s Advanced Interface Bus (AIB) is a die-to-die PHY level standard that enables a modular approach to system design with a library of chiplet intellectual property (IP) blocks. The figure shows an example of a possible heterogeneous system in package (SiP) that combines sensors, proprietary ASIC, FPGA, CPU, Memory, and I/O using AIB as the chiplet interface. Credit: Intel.

The company is working with partners like Texas Instruments, which mostly makes analog chips, to connect the FPGA to third-party chiplets. That is done via an interface Intel calls AIB (Advanced Interface Bus).

“We’re moving to more chiplet architecture and more modular capability which really opens up a number of opportunities not just for PSG … but also for the broader company,” Poulin said.

Also on the roadmap is Agilex D-series, which is for the mid-range market. The chip will have 100,000 logic elements, low-power DDR5 memory, and a new type of “smart fabric” that will provide a performance boost. The initial chips will sample in 2023, with volume shipments starting in 2024. The FPGA is targeted at industrial, communications, robotics and other markets.

The next Agilex chip codenamed Sundance Mesa will be about half the size of the D-series chip with about 50,000 logic elements. It will be for artificial intelligence and consumer-oriented applications. Intel hasn’t assigned a series name to this chip.

Intel has been doing chiplets with its Stratix and Agilex FPGAs for four years, but will evolve it to support new interfaces like UCIe, which is emerging as the interconnect to link up diverse cores inside a single chip package.

Intel to an extent is relying on chiplets and associated interfaces like UCIe and CXL, to move its FPGA strategy forward. That relies heavily on the company’s manufacturing strategy, which isn’t moving forward as planned with delays in shipments for chips such as Xeon processors codenamed Sapphire Rapids and the Gaudi 2 AI chip.

In the meanwhile, AMD has moved ahead with quick integration of Xilinx, which it acquired earlier this year after a long review period. AMD wasted no time releasing a cohesive roadmap that included CPUs, GPUs, software-defined FPGAs and fixed-function ASICs.

AMD executives are making the rounds of chip conferences talking about the FPGA and ASIC roadmap. FPGAs can carry out chip functions using software, but AMD is pairing fixed function logic, like ASICs, to programmable logic adapters like FPGAs where one can layer in customizations such as custom header extensions, or add or remove new accelerator functions on the programmable logic.

Intel is playing catch up, but Poulin said the company wants to get its strategy right even if it takes time. The modular approach – which will be made possible by interfaces like UCIe and CXL – will allow Intel to create a more flexible chip design, Poulin said.

“I think it’s fair … that we’re still filling out our portfolio, but we are not going to follow them strategy wise down that rabbit hole of hardening IP that people don’t want or most people don’t want,” Poulin said.

Poulin said there are two choices where one could choose to harden IP – on the fabric itself, or on a chiplet, which Intel has with the AIB interface.

“One of the things you don’t want to do, which is one of the things [AMD’s] Versal has done, is hardened a bunch of things that a subset of the people will use and not have a modular way of actually making exactly the right product that somebody wants, because then you end up cost (infrastructure wise), leakage (current wise), and with a product that is over designed for an individual market,” Poulin said.

Intel’s strategy is playing out well in the infrastructure processing unit (IPU) space, where the company has hardened IP on the fabric.

“We’re going to have a modular approach so that we can put exactly the hard IP on exactly the customers that want it,” Poulin said.

Intel’s process node roadmap and 2022 milestones. Presented by Pat Gelsinger at Intel’s investor meeting on Feb. 17, 2022.

But Intel has its challenges going forward, which partly relies on the company meeting its manufacturing roadmap. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger in 2021 set an aggressive roadmap of advancing four nodes in five years, which is much quicker than the typical two-year advance in chip manufacturing. Another big question for Intel remains whether the company will be able to personalize those chips, which the company mainly does for top customers with large orders of custom chips.

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!

PFAS Regulations, 3M Exit to Impact Two-Phase Cooling in HPC

January 27, 2023

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” pose a number of health risks to humans, with more suspected but not yet confirmed – and, as a result, PFAS are coming under increasing regu Read more…

Sweden Plans Expansion for Nvidia-Powered Berzelius Supercomputer

January 26, 2023

The Atos-built, Nvidia SuperPod-based Berzelius supercomputer – housed in and operated by Sweden’s Linköping-based National Supercomputer Centre (NSC) – is already no slouch. But now, Nvidia and NSC have announced Read more…

Multiverse, Pasqal, and Crédit Agricole Tout Progress Using Quantum Computing in FS

January 26, 2023

Europe-based quantum computing pioneers Multiverse Computing and Pasqal, and global bank Crédit Agricole CIB today announced successful conclusion of a 1.5-year POC study “to evaluate the contribution of an algorithmi Read more…

Critics Don’t Want Politicians Deciding the Future of Semiconductors

January 26, 2023

The future of the semiconductor industry was partially being decided last week by a mix of politicians, policy hawks and chip industry executives jockeying for influence at the World Economic Forum. Intel CEO Pat Gels Read more…

Riken Plans ‘Virtual Fugaku’ on AWS

January 26, 2023

The development of a national flagship supercomputer aimed at exascale computing continues to be a heated competition, especially in the United States, the European Union, China, and Japan. What is the value to be gained Read more…

AWS Solution Channel

Shutterstock_1687123447

Numerix Scales HPC Workloads for Price and Risk Modeling Using AWS Batch

  • 180x improvement in analytics performance
  • Enhanced risk management
  • Decreased bottlenecks in analytics
  • Unlocked near-real-time analytics
  • Scaled financial analytics

Overview

Numerix, a financial technology company, needed to find a way to scale its high performance computing (HPC) solution as client portfolios ballooned in size. Read more…

Microsoft/NVIDIA Solution Channel

Shutterstock 1453953692

Microsoft and NVIDIA Experts Talk AI Infrastructure

As AI emerges as a crucial tool in so many sectors, it’s clear that the need for optimized AI infrastructure is growing. Going beyond just GPU-based clusters, cloud infrastructure that provides low-latency, high-bandwidth interconnects and high-performance storage can help organizations handle AI workloads more efficiently and produce faster results. Read more…

Supercomputer Research Predicts Extinction Cascade

January 25, 2023

The immediate impacts of climate change and land-use change are severe enough, but increasingly, researchers are warning that large enough changes can then snowball into catastrophic changes. New, supercomputer-powered r Read more…

PFAS Regulations, 3M Exit to Impact Two-Phase Cooling in HPC

January 27, 2023

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), known as “forever chemicals,” pose a number of health risks to humans, with more suspected but not yet confirmed Read more…

Critics Don’t Want Politicians Deciding the Future of Semiconductors

January 26, 2023

The future of the semiconductor industry was partially being decided last week by a mix of politicians, policy hawks and chip industry executives jockeying for Read more…

Riken Plans ‘Virtual Fugaku’ on AWS

January 26, 2023

The development of a national flagship supercomputer aimed at exascale computing continues to be a heated competition, especially in the United States, the Euro Read more…

Shutterstock 1134313550

Semiconductor Companies Create Building Block for Chiplet Design

January 24, 2023

Intel's CEO Pat Gelsinger last week made a grand proclamation that chips will be for the next few decades what oil and gas was to the world over the last 50 years. While that remains to be seen, two technology associations are joining hands to develop building blocks to stabilize the development of future chip designs. The goal of the standard is to set the stage for a thriving marketplace that fuels... Read more…

Royalty-free stock photo ID: 1572060865

Fujitsu Study Says Quantum Decryption Threat Still Distant

January 23, 2023

Global computer and chip manufacturer Fujitsu today reported that a new study performed on its 39-qubit quantum simulator suggests it will remain difficult for Read more…

At ORNL, Jeff Smith Becomes Interim Director, as Search for Permanent Lab Chief Continues

January 20, 2023

UT-Battelle, which manages Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the U.S. Department of Energy, has appointed Jeff Smith as interim director for the lab as t Read more…

Top HPC Players Creating New Security Architecture Amid Neglect

January 20, 2023

Security of high-performance computers is being neglected in the pursuit of horsepower, and there are concerns that the ignorance may be costly if safeguards ar Read more…

Ohio Supercomputer Center Debuts ‘Ascend’ GPU Cluster

January 19, 2023

Less than 10 months after it was announced, the Columbus-based Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) has debuted its Dell-built GPU cluster, “Ascend.” Designed to Read more…

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

SC22 Booth Videos

AMD @ SC22
Altair @ SC22
AWS @ SC22
Ayar Labs @ SC22
CoolIT @ SC22
Cornelis Networks @ SC22
DDN @ SC22
Dell Technologies @ SC22
HPE @ SC22
Intel @ SC22
Intelligent Light @ SC22
Lancium @ SC22
Lenovo @ SC22
Microsoft and NVIDIA @ SC22
One Stop Systems @ SC22
Penguin Solutions @ SC22
QCT @ SC22
Supermicro @ SC22
Tuxera @ SC22
Tyan Computer @ SC22
  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
HPCwire