Intel Will Not Keep Tick-Tock Strategy for MIC Products - Company

Intel to Concentrate on Making Substantial Improvements to MIC Accelerators

by Anton Shilov
12/06/2010 | 03:22 PM

For years Intel Corp. has kept its so-called "tick-tock" microprocessor development strategy and implemented thinner manufacturing technology ahead of micro-architectural update. This allows the company to bring newer products to market every twelve months. However, the company will not keep this strategy with its many Intel core (MIC) micro-architecture chips for high-performance computing (HPC) industry.


The evolution of Intel MIC micro-architecture will be slower compared to the company's traditional processors for servers, according to Rajeeb Hazra, the general manager for the high performance computing group at Intel. The world's largest chipmaker will update MIC-based products once in eighteen or even twenty four months, but " each processor update could encapsulate more significant architectural changes", the HPCwire web-site quotes Mr. Hazra as saying.

Designed specifically to compete against highly-parallel graphics processing units (GPUs) from Advanced Micro Devices and Nvidia Corp., Intel MIC products will not need updates every twelve months since neither of the rivals introduce brand-new HPC solutions every year. Moreover, since MIC products should not be necessarily cost-efficient and their adopters require major performance increases from generation to generation, it may not make a lot of sense in shrinking them without adding major improvements.

Nvidia's Tesla 2000-series compute card based on a chip featuring the company's Fermi architecture at present powers the world's highest-performing supercomputer. Even though so-far efficiency of those heterogeneous systems is not maximal, they still consume less energy than supercomputers powered only by x86 processors. AMD is also selling its FireStream cards to those, who require HPC acceleration. While Intel will be late with its MIC, it believes that relatively easy porting of current HPC applications to x86-supporting MIC accelerators will allow it to fight back market share from its rivals.

Intel's first MIC-series products is expected to be code-named Knights Corner chips with more than fifty  simplistic x86 cores made using 22nm fabrication process. The many-core microprocessor will be released in 2012.