Category Archives: Intel

Intel promises big boost to integrated GPU, breaks teraflop barrier

64 little grey boxes means 64 execution units, up from 24.

Enlarge / 64 little grey boxes means 64 execution units, up from 24. (credit: Intel)

Intel is promising a huge improvement to the performance of its integrated GPUs. Its generation 11 (“Gen11″) GPU will more than double the execution units from (usually) 24 to 64, and in so doing boost the number-crunching performance to more than 1 trillion floating point operations per second.

Just as the current Gen9 GPUs, Gen11 is arranged into blocks combining execution units (EUs) with dedicated 3D hardware such as texture samplers. Gen9 parts have up to 8 EUs per block, and the most-common configuration found in Intel’s processors, GT2, has three such blocks for a total of 24 EUs (though there are designs with six or nine blocks, for 48 or 72 EUs). Gen11 has 16 EUs per block and will have configurations with four blocks. It’s all these extra execution units that enable that headlining 1TFLOPS performance figure.

The new GPU will use a tile-based rendering approach, which divides the image into tiles that are all rendered separately. This tends to reduce the amount of memory bandwidth the GPU needs, which is valuable in integrated GPUs, as they lack the high-performance memory found in discrete parts. The Mali GPUs designed by ARM, along with Qualcomm’s Adreno GPUs, both use tile-based rendering, too.

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Intel unveils a new architecture for 2019: Sunny Cove

OK, it's not all that sunny, but it's a nice picture of a cove.

OK, it’s not all that sunny, but it’s a nice picture of a cove. (credit: Neil Williamson)

In 2019, Intel will release Core and Xeon chips built around a new architecture: the chips will add a bunch of new instructions to accelerate certain popular workloads such as cryptography and compression, with the company demonstrating 75-percent improvement in compression performance relative to prior-generation parts.

Since 2015, Intel’s mainstream processors under the Core and Xeon brands have been based around the Skylake architecture. Intel’s original intent was to release Skylake on its 14nm manufacturing process and then follow that up with Cannon Lake on its 10nm process. Cannon Lake would add a handful of new features (it includes more AVX instructions, for example) but otherwise be broadly the same as Skylake.

However, delays in getting its 10nm manufacturing process running effectively forced Intel to stick with 14nm for longer than anticipated. Accordingly, the company followed Skylake (with its maximum of four cores in consumer systems) with Kaby Lake (with higher clock speeds and much greater hardware acceleration of modern video codecs), Coffee Lake (as many as eight cores), and Whiskey Lake (improved integrated chipset). The core Skylake architecture was unchanged across these variations, meaning that while their clock speeds differ, the number of instructions per cycle (IPC) is essentially identical.

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Intel introduces Foveros: 3D die stacking for more than just memory

P1274 is Intel's name for its high performance 10nm process. P1222 is its 22FFL (22nm, FinFET, Low Power) process, which is optimized for much lower current leakage. As well as the Foveros connection between the compute and I/O modules, the product will use conventional stacked Package-on-Package memory.

Enlarge / P1274 is Intel’s name for its high performance 10nm process. P1222 is its 22FFL (22nm, FinFET, Low Power) process, which is optimized for much lower current leakage. As well as the Foveros connection between the compute and I/O modules, the product will use conventional stacked Package-on-Package memory. (credit: Intel)

In 2019, Intel is going to ship chips using a new 3D stacking technology the company is calling Foveros. Foveros allows complex logic dies to be stacked upon one another, providing a much greater ability to mix and match processor components with optimal manufacturing processes.

Package-on-package stacking is already commonplace in the system-on-chip world. Typically, this involves sticking a memory package on top of a processor, with perhaps a few hundred connections between the two. The size and performance of the connections has limited the application of this technique. With Foveros, the interconnect will use etched silicon (just as EMIB does) to enable many more interconnections, running at much greater speeds.

Foveros follows on from Intel’s EMIB (Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge) tech. EMIB is found on the Kaby Lake-G processors that in a single package contain an Intel CPU, AMD GPU, and a chunk of second-generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). HBM achieves its high bandwidth by using thousands of interconnects between the GPU and its memory, in comparison to the several hundred used between a GPU and conventional GDDR. The Kaby Lake-G chips use EMIB to provide this connection.

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Intel is bringing teraflop integrated graphics to 10nm chips in 2019

No, you didn't read that wrong. Intel's 11th generation integrated graphics will pack in more than a teraflop worth of computing power, the company announced today. That means you'll actually be able to play plenty of PC games without the need for an…

How to pick the best laptop

So you want to buy a new laptop. You know what you want, but maybe you don't know where to start or what features you should be looking for this year. After all, you don't want to get a new machine now only to find out the next day that it's already…

The best ultraportable laptops of 2018

When Steve Jobs first pulled the original MacBook Air out of a manilla envelope in 2008, the tech world dropped its collective jaw. A laptop that could fit in such a small package? Groundbreaking. With a three-pound weight and tapered silhouette that…

Review: Intel’s 9th Gen Core i9 9900K processor hits 5GHz—just at a price

Richard Baguley

Let’s be honest here: modern processors aren’t exciting. Speed bumps no longer thrill us, and we’ve become blasé about adding more cores. But we are living in a time when computers casually offer amounts of processing power that would have made previous generations swoon.

It’s also a competitive time, primarily with two companies fighting for your silicon spending and giving you great computing bang for your buck. On one side we have Intel, the 800-pound gorilla of the processor world. On the other side, we have AMD, the upstart that occasionally steals the crown by doing something unexpected that changes the rules.

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Intel’s ‘neural network on a stick’ brings AI training to you

Ahead of its first AI developers conference in Beijing, Intel has announced it's making the process of imparting intelligence into smart home gadgets and other network edge devices faster and easier thanks to the company's latest invention: the Neura…

Spectre, Meltdown researchers unveil 7 more speculative execution attacks

Spectre, Meltdown researchers unveil 7 more speculative execution attacks

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

Back at the start of the year, a set of attacks that leveraged the speculative execution capabilities of modern high-performance processors was revealed. The attacks were named Meltdown and Spectre. Since then, numerous variants of these attacks have been devised. In tandem, a range of mitigation techniques has been created to enable at-risk software, operating systems, and hypervisor platforms to protect against these attacks.

A research team—including many of the original researchers behind Meltdown, Spectre, and the related Foreshadow and BranchScope attacks—has published a new paper disclosing yet more attacks in the Spectre and Meltdown families. The result? Seven new possible attacks. Some are mitigated by known mitigation techniques, but others are not. That means further work is required to safeguard vulnerable systems.

The previous investigations into these attacks have been a little ad hoc in nature: examining particular features of interest to provide, for example, a Spectre attack that can be performed remotely over a network or Meltdown-esque attack to break into SGX enclaves. The new research is more systematic, looking at the underlying mechanisms behind both Meltdown and Spectre and running through all the different ways the speculative execution can be misdirected.

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Intel speeds up its 5G modem plans

Intel isn't about to let Qualcomm claim a lengthy lead in 5G mobile chipsets. The company is stepping up the launch of a new 5G modem, the XMM 8160, by half a year. The wireless part is now due to arrive in the second half of 2019 and promises up t…