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Intel Knights Preparing for Parallel Battle

Intel plans to unleash its coprocessor with many integrated cores (MIC), dubbed Knights Corner, in the high performance computing market.

CPU maker Intel‘s new architecture, dubbed Knights Corner, represents the move from multicore (two, four, six, eight …) to many integrated cores (MIC, more than 50 Intel processing cores on a single chip).

Intel describes MIC as a coprocessor, a power-booster to the central processor. The new product is expected to be a serious contender in the high performance computing (HPC) market, where graphics coprocessors (GPUs) have been grabbing market shares because of their parallel computing capability. What distinguishes Intel’s MIC from graphics coprocessors may be its programming environment.

“Developers can program these cores using standard C, C++, and FORTRAN source code,” according to Intel. “The same program source code written for Intel MIC products can be compiled and run on a standard Intel Xeon processor. Familiar programming models remove developer-training barriers, allowing the developer to focus on the problems rather than software engineering.”

Taking advantage of GPU-powered parallel computing depends on GPU-specific language (for example, CUDA for NVIDIA GPUs). Intel’s calculation is, the ease of use with which its Knights Corner processors can be programmed will make them easier to deploy for highly parallel code. For engineers and designers, Intel’s MIC may lead to better performance in CPU-based ray-traced rendering and FEA/CFD simulation.

Intel announces, “The first presentation of the first silicon of Knights Corner coprocessor showed that Intel architecture is capable of delivering more than 1 TFLOPs of double precision floating point performance (as measured by the Double-precision, General Matrix-Matrix multiplication benchmark).”

At the International Supercomputing Conference 2011 in Hamburg, Germany, Intel declared its goal to deliver Exascale-level performance by 2018 with only two times the power usage of the current top supercomputer. It appears Knights Corner will pave the way in Intel’s lofty performance quest.

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About Kenneth

Kenneth Wong has been a regular contributor to the CAD industry press since 2000, first an an editor, later as a columnist and freelance writer for various publications. During his nine-year tenure, he has closely followed the migration from 2D to 3D, the growth of PLM (product lifecycle management), and the impact of globalization on manufacturing. His writings have appeared in Cadalyst, Computer Graphics World, and Manufacturing Business Technology, among others.


  1. Same BS from Intel over and over again.

    Knight Ferry/Corner/Larrabee blah-blah-blah…

    Just like OLED monitors… LG/Samsung show the on every CES for almost 10 years, but there’s no commercial products available (Sony with 10″ overpriced TV may go to hell) and won’t be any in the nearest future. And now Intel (4 years old Q6600 is almost comparable with their new IvyBridge, WTF? where’s the progress?) promicing co-processors for 5 years and still I don’t see any commercial products. There’s no open developers programs, no PGI fortran optimizations, no Mathematica addons etc, no release dates or prices either. 2018 your say? Liars…

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