Intel Promotes Application-Specific Accelerators for Servers

Intel Unveils Geneseo Initiative

by Anton Shilov
09/30/2006 | 11:43 PM

Intel Corp. along with IBM said that they would enhance PCI Express bus standard to more efficiently attach application-specific co-processors to computer systems. The project code-named Geneseo is claimed to be supported by many co-processor developers, however, it is not clear whether the architecture will be accessible by participants only, or by other industry players as well.

 

“IBM is co-founding a new open standard for attaching accelerators and co-processors to server platforms. Like PCI-X, InfiniBand and PCI Express, this new architecture defines a standards-based approach for improving general purpose server accessibility within new and emerging application areas, such as encryption, visualization, XML and complex math1ematical modeling,” said Dr. Tom Bradicich, IBM fellow and chief technology officer, System x and BladeCenter servers.

The project Geneseo outlines enhancements to PCI Express technology that will enable faster connectivity between the processor and application accelerators, and improve the range of design options for hardware developers, according to explanation by Intel and IBM. Similar project – code-named Torrenza – is lead by Advanced Micro Devices, Intel’s arch-rival. AMD proposes to install application-specific accelerators into HyperTransport bus used in AMD server platforms. That said, Geneseo is a rival for Torrenza, which may divide the industry into two camps, one supporting the former and another – the latter.

Today servers nearly fully rely on processing capabilities on central processing unit. However, there are a lot of applications that would benefit from special-purpose accelerators, including, but not limited to, visualization, such as complex weather modeling; math1 and physics, such as data intensive financial applications; and content processing, such as the encryption and decryption of communications infrastructure data.

According to Intel, Geneseo is supported by “key technology companies” including Adaptec, Ageia Technologies, Altera Broadcom, Celoxica, Cisco Systems, ClearSpeed Technology, Dell, EMC, Emulex , HP, Integrated Device Technology, Lecroy, Linux Networx, LSI Logic, Mellanox Technologies, Myricom, NetEffect, Novell, Nvidia, PLX Technology, PMC-Sierra, QLogic, Sun Microsystems, Synopsys, Tektronix, Xambala, Xilinx and Xtreme Data.

It is known that AMD’s Torrenza is supported by Cray, HP, Rackable Systems, Sun Microsystems and VMware.