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Intel Announces the Company’s Largest Architectural Change in 40 Years

Intel's new Core Ultra mobile processors and 5th Gen Xeon processors build in AI acceleration with specialized cores, marking the biggest architectural change since the 80286.

At Intel's 2023 "AI Everywhere" event, Intel introduced a radical update to its processing architecture, represented in its mobile Core Ultra processors and desktop Core Ultra processors to be released in 2024. The architectures combine conventional high-capability CPU cores with special-purpose cores for low-power tasks, graphics acceleration, and AI acceleration. The newest 5th Gen Xeon CPUs, also announced at the event, focus on server performance and add in co-processor cores for cloud AI acceleration.

According to Intel’s company vision, the future of AI processing is in both the cloud and the edge. The company predicts that by 2028, 80% of all PCs will be “AI PCs”, equipped with AI co-processors.

Intel Moves to Neural Processing Units

Intel's AI co-processors, called neural processing units (NPUs), are its newest major innovation. When combined with the other special-purpose CPU cores, Intel believes that the new processors will increase overall performance while reducing electrical power draw and lowering overall total cost of ownership (TCO).

The diversified architecture of these devices combines multiple specialized cores assembled in a chiplet-based system. Chiplets enable higher yields by reducing the silicon real estate for each processor and optimizing silicon wafers for each chiplet’s purpose. Like most AI accelerators, Intel's NPUs rely heavily on multiply-accumulate (MAC) units. MAC speeds up complex multiplication operations by reducing the need to shift data between memory and registers.

Intel released Xeon and mobile processors in late 2023, with desktop PC processors using Intel 4 scheduled for 2024. Intel's 4 process technology is a 7-nm geometry process, which Intel claims will increase clock speeds by 20% for the same power usage over Intel's 7 process (10 nm).

The Core Ultra and 5th Gen Xeon are the first 7-nm processors from Intel and the first Core CPUs with smaller process geometries since 2019.

Posted on: 12/23/2023 2:47:20 AM


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