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Intel's Challenge to NVIDIA Is Coming This Year
#1
2-20-2015

Intel's Challenge to NVIDIA Is Coming This Year

Graphics chip specialist NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA  ) has essentially run away with the high-performance-computing accelerator market. The company says its Tesla GPUs accounted for 85% of the market as of the middle of 2013, with Intel's (NASDAQ: INTC  ) competing Xeon Phi product line barely registering.

Knights Landing will be different than its predecessor in three important ways.

First, it will be far more powerful. Knights Corner could do about one teraflop, or 1 trillion floating point operations per second, at double precision, while Knights Landing triples this performance to three teraflops. This puts Knights Landing in line with the performance of NVIDIA's most powerful Tesla GPU, the K80.

Second, Knights Landing will be available as both an add-on card and a stand-alone processor. The stand-alone version allows Knights Landing to act as the main processor, although since it will be composed of dozens of low-power Atom cores, single-thread performance will be poor. A likely configuration, then, will be a powerful Intel Xeon server CPU coupled with a Knights Landing processor.

This configuration comes with one important advantage compared to add-on boards. NVIDIA's GPUs need to communicate with the CPU, sending data back and forth between main memory and video memory, and it must do this over the PCI-E bus. This creates a potential bottleneck in the system, something the stand-alone Knights Landing avoids.


NVIDIA also has a solution to the issue of sending data back and forth between the CPU and the GPU. The company has developed a technology called NVLink, which allows the processors to exchange data five to 12 times faster than PCI-E, and it is already set to be used in two new supercomputers being built by the U.S. Department of Energy. This reduces the advantage the stand-alone Knights Landing has over NVIDIA's GPUs.

Third, Intel manufactures its own chips, and Knights Landing will be built on its 14-nanometer process. NVIDIA relies on third-party foundries, and currently all of its products are stuck at 28nm. Apple and other high-volume foundry customers took all the available 20nm capacity last year, and it's unclear exactly when NVIDIA will issue any products below 28nm.

This gives Intel an important advantage that NVIDIA can't match. Knights Hill, the successor to Knights Landing expected in 2017 at the earliest, will be built on Intel's upcoming 10nm process. What node NVIDIA will be on at that point is an open question.

Intel has far more resources than NVIDIA, and if it throws enough money into the effort it's hard to imagine the company not eventually winning a significant chunk of the market, especially considering its manufacturing advantage. The main question is whether the opportunity is large enough, relative to Intel's size, to warrant this effort.

In the end, the market might grow quickly enough to enable NVIDIA and Intel to both succeed. But if Intel's Knights Landing doesn't put up a much better showing than its previous efforts, the company may need to rethink its strategy.
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#2
Interesting. I wonder if they will make a high end gpu with it as well.
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#3
(02-21-2015, 11:22 PM)SickBeast Wrote: Interesting. I wonder if they will make a high end gpu with it as well.
I really hope so. It would be great to have a replacement for AMD.
Valve hater, Nintendo hater, Microsoft defender, AMD hater, Google Fiber hater, 4K lover, net neutrality lover.
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#4
(02-22-2015, 12:38 AM)SteelCrysis Wrote:
(02-21-2015, 11:22 PM)SickBeast Wrote: Interesting. I wonder if they will make a high end gpu with it as well.
I really hope so.  It would be great to have a replacement for AMD.
I just think that Intel's architecture is so radically different that it will not perform well in games. They are using Atom CPU cores. They need to develop a proper GPU.
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#5
(02-22-2015, 12:48 AM)SickBeast Wrote: I just think that Intel's architecture is so radically different that it will not perform well in games.  They are using Atom CPU cores.  They need to develop a proper GPU.
Silly me, this is what I meant to agree with. :blush:
Valve hater, Nintendo hater, Microsoft defender, AMD hater, Google Fiber hater, 4K lover, net neutrality lover.
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#6
death to nvidia!!!!!
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