Accelerators and all that jazz

The accelerator race between Intel and NVIDIA continued apace at the recent SuperComputing (SC14) in New Orleans, U.S.

Intel announced that the third generation of the Xeon Phi would be Knights Hill. This will follow Knights Landing which is due out in 2016, following a couple of years of Knights Corner (KNC). Knights Landing has been increasing incorporated in to high end compute systems, most recently the US National Labs systems Trinity and Cori and Europe's largest Xeon Phi installation at IT4 Innovations

Whilst Knights Landing is 14 nm tech, Knights Hill will be 10 nm tech. Presumably with an increase either in the number of cores on the card, or an increase in the punch of each core (Knights Corner is 60 cores, and Knights Landing will be 72 cores). The big hit with Knights Landing and Knights Hill is that they will both be standalone processors, rather than being memory-limited PCI-e cards.

In summary: Knights Corner (KNC) is PCI-e, 60xP54C cores and has been available since 2013. Knights Landing (KNL) will be standalone, 72xSilvermont cores with AVX-512 with a peak DP performance of 3 TFLOPS/sec and with 16 GBytes RAM, 14 nm tech & integrated Omni-Path Fabric. KNL will be available mid-2015. Knights Hill will be 10 nm tech and available 2016.

Meanwhile, in the florescent green corner, NVIDIA launched their K80 successor to the K40 (both being the Kepler architecture). The K80 is two GK210s packed together giving total RAM of 2x12 GBytes, and total core count is increased to 2x2496 streaming multiprocessors. Peak double precision performance is claimed to be 2.91 TFLOPS/sec. Athough this dual card will require 300 Watts the c.80% increase in compute performance relates to between 2% and 59% improvement in energy efficiency of compute/Watt compared to the K40. Whilst the K40 had a GPU Boost with 3 modes available to be chosen by the user, the K80 introduces automatically changing GPU Boost. The K80 is on sale at about $5000 per card.