Intel shows off its HPC accelerator

Chipmaker Intel has been showing off its first high-performance computing (HPC) accelerator for the first time on public.

At the SC10 trade-show dedicated to supercomputers, Chipzilla has been demonstrating its Knights Ferry device which is based on the Larrabee GPU design.

According to Xbit Labs, the demonstration included the real-world capabilities of the recently announced MIC (many Intel core) architecture.

These included using Intel MIC architecture as a co-processor running financial derivative Monte Carlo demonstrations.

The demo appeared to show that Knights Ferry can manage twice the performance of those conducted with prior generation technologies.

The Monte Carlo software for Intel MIC used standard C++ code with an Intel MIC-enabled version of the Intel Parallel Studio XE 2011 software development tools.

The big idea was that software for standard Intel CPUs can scale to future Intel MIC products.Intel also showed off how Knights Ferry could handle compressed medical imaging developed with Mayo Clinic.

It used compressed signals to rapidly create high-quality images, reducing the time a patient has to spend having an MRI.

Chipzilla was not keen to explain the computing performance of the Knights Ferry either in terms of Gigaflops or Teraflops. If you mentioned flops an intel spokesman tended to say things like “oh look there is a badger with a handgun”.

According to Intel,  the Knights Ferry has 32 X86 cores clocked at 1.2GHz and featuring quad-Hyperthreading. It also has 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The chip has 8MB of shared L2 cache

Of course, we are yet to see Knights Ferry in the shops yet as it is still in development. We know that Intel’s Knights Corner will initially target HPC segments, such as exploration, scientific research and financial or climate simulation.

That chip will be made on Intel’s 22 nanometre manufacturing process and will have more than 50 Intel processing cores on a single chip.

Knight Bus, which also has not been mentioned, may not even arrive at all and leave customers shivering outside a Knight Club array where they could not get in because they were not on the list.