Just weeks after Intel’s product roadmaps purportedly leaked, we have an official update from the company itself. At a data center summit today, Intel gave fresh guidance on when it expects to have new silicon and products in-market. Now we have some idea how the company will adjust for delays to its 10nm node and what the next round of products will look like for data centers.
First up, courtesy of Tom’s Hardware: Cascade Lake. Cascade Lake will launch in 2018 and feature two major capabilities: Support for Intel’s Optane Persistent Memory DIMMs, and built-in hardware mitigation to protect against attacks like Meltdown and Spectre. Just including the latter could help spur upgrade cycles — while consumer workloads haven’t seen major performance issues from the various mitigations and protections, some server workloads took a significant penalty. With new Spectre vulnerabilities periodically being discovered, any hardware-based security could push companies to replace their older hardware.
Cascade Lake will have an optimized cache hierarchy (no word on how this is different from the optimized caches Intel deployed for Skylake-X) and will support a new AVX-512 capability, VNNI, when executing machine learning workloads.
Next up, Cooper Lake. Cooper Lake is a 14nm chip with hardware acceleration support for Google’s floating point format, Bfloat16. Intel has been extending support for Bfloat16 across its hardware in 2018 — earlier this year it added support to the Nervana NNP-L1000. Bfloat16 offers a truncated 16-bit version of the 32-bit IEEE754 binary32 floating point format. Bfloat16 only supports seven bits of precision, but this is generally more than sufficient for machine learning applications. Cooper Lake, according to Tom’s, will debut on a 14nm++ process, which seems to answer whether or not Intel intends to continue pushing ++’s at us with each successive process node revamp, if any changes to 14nm are planned at all. Assuming they are not, Intel will likely have trouble pushing clocks much higher.
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