Intel Demonstrates 8-Way “Multi-GPU” MIC “Knights Ferry” System

Intel Shows Off More Realistic Real-Time Ray-Tracing Demo with Eight Knight Ferry Cards

by Anton Shilov
09/14/2011 | 02:55 PM

At the Intel Developer Forum 2011, Intel Corp. showcased a system running a new version of its real-time “Wolfenstein” ray-tracing demo. In order to render the game scenes in full HD (1080p) resolution and with additional visual effects, Intel had to use a 2-way Xeon system with eight code-named Knights Ferry compute accelerators.


The up-to-date Wolfenstein game is rendered through a real-time ray tracer with several special effects that haven’t been possible before in games with such an accuracy. The latest Wolfenstein game demo also includes such effects as depth of field, HDR bloom, inter-lens reflection, smart anti-aliasing.

Las year Intel rendered Wolfenstein demo using a “cloud” of four Intel's Knights Ferry/Aubrey Isle compute accelerate cards in 720p (1280*720 resolution). This year Intel decided to install eight KNF compute cards and render the demo in 1080p (resolution). As ray tracing is a highly parallel application it can therefore take very good benefit of the many cores that are in a single chip on the Knights Ferry board.

The demonstration is a proof-of-concept of real-time ray-tracing as well as many Intel core (MIC) architecture. However, the show off does not have a lot of practical meaning since real-time ray-tracing will hardly be used in the consumer applications for many years.

The Knights Ferry has 32 x86 cores clocked at 1.2GHz and featuring quad-HyperThreading. The unit, aimed at PCI Express 2.0 slots, has up to 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The chip itself has 8MB of shared L2 cache, which is quite intriguing by itself since highly-parallel applications do not require a large on-chip cache.

According to Intel, eight KNF compute boards (on 2-way Intel Xeon X5690 [3.46GHz, 6 cores, 12MB L3 cache] with 24GB DDR3 RAM at 1333MHz) achieved 7TFLOPS performance in SGEMM [single precision general matrix multiply] operations, which is not a truly high result.