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Transform the Industry with 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Processors
Earlier this year, the latest 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, codenamed Sapphire Rapids, were released. These processors come packed with great new features for better, faster performance, including through leveraging AI, leading to improved industrial operations all around. They also hit all the marks for federal and Industry 4.0 success—security, reliability, flexibility, and scalability—everything that the industrial and federal spaces want to see. And because these industries don’t favor the “rip and replace” method, these Xeon Scalable processors will help manufacturers future-proof their investments, meeting the needs their factories have today while also looking forward to tomorrow.
We’ll get an inside look at Sapphire Rapids, the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors (Video 1), with Christine Boles, Vice President of the Network & Edge Group and General Manager of Federal & Industrial Solutions at Intel, and answer the key question: “Why should I move from the release I’m on now to this one?”
Tell us more about these latest Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.
The 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors have been designed to deliver incredible capabilities for very demanding workloads, which is exciting to see. And, as you mentioned, many of those workloads are in the industrial space. If you look at Industry 4.0 transformation, the industrial sector is looking for technologies to deliver capabilities that really extend and increase business value, as well as addressing some of the challenges of manufacturers or utilities.
The new capabilities of these processors are particularly in the areas of acceleration for AI and machine learning and data analytics, in addition to networking and storage. Intel has re-architected the microarchitecture to address these workloads—whether in the networking space or at the industrial edge—extending processing capability, but within a great performance-to-power performance area. At the same time, the 4th Gen also extends memory capacity in the IO that is needed in these industrial capabilities.
One of the specific areas where we have added capabilities is around deep learning and machine learning, by putting some additional acceleration into the CPUs. Two of the new updates around acceleration are the Intel® Advanced Matrix Extensions (Intel® AMX), and the Intel® Data Streaming Accelerator.
As you can imagine, manufacturers in the industrial space have a lot of data to deal with. AMX accelerates AI capabilities for the workloads in those industrial spaces—such as machine vision; defect detection; or quality assessment of the equipment, as well as of products moving down the line. And the Data Streaming Accelerator prioritizes and manages the data through the virtualized environments, as well as presenting the information.
Another area that I’d call attention to is the Intel® Speed Select Technology, or SST. SST helps with consolidating workloads onto form factors that are running multiple workloads. It has the ability to select where you’re going to be processing—optimizing performance where you need it in some of the virtual machines versus other workloads that might not need as much. And I’m excited to see how SST will be utilized by the industrial solutions providers.
How does this latest generation perform compared to previous generations?
There are four areas where I really see that the 4th Gen Xeon Scalable processors are going to help deliver what customers are looking for around the IoT edge, and what solutions providers will develop around.
The first is in the area of overall performance, memory, and IO. In the overall architecture we have a higher per-core performance than previous generations had, with up to 52 cores, or different sockets, for a range of IoT-edge use cases. We have also extended memory capabilities, with eight channels of DDR5. DDR5 allows for an overall 1.5x improvement in bandwidth over the DDR4 generation. This will ultimately improve performance and capacity for memory utilization.
One of the areas that pushes limits in industrial use cases is IO capability, and this generation has up to 80 lanes of PCI Express Gen 5. Also in the IO area: We have great acceleration of AI capabilities in the Xeon Scalable processors—but if you need additional CPUs or external accelerators, we do have the CXL 1.1 connectivity for interconnecting to external devices.
The second area is one of the biggest additions to this product—in AI acceleration with those AMX extensions. And we take it one step further in making sure the right toolkits are available to take advantage of the capability for workload inferencing and optimization with the OpenVINO™ toolkit. Having both that improved AI acceleration and the toolkits will give customers the right support for deep learning and overall training of workloads.
I mentioned SST previously—the Intel Speed Select Technology—for bringing workloads together. This is the third area, and it allows for better control over CPU performance, and how that performance and the compute power are being utilized across the Xeon Scalable processors. We also make available tools to allow for monitoring control with the Intel® Resource Director Technology toolkit, which enables for control and sharing of resources, as well as managing the overall environment.
The fourth big area is, of course, resiliency and security, which are particularly important in the manufacturing or federal types of environments. Intel is known for efficiency and resiliency with its processors, so that’s a big part of what we continue to provide. And then we have security extensions, with the Software Guard Extensions, to allow for secure enclaves of execution of different applications.
“The new capabilities of the latest Intel® Xeon® processors are particularly in the areas of acceleration for #AI and #MachineLearning and #data analytics, in addition to networking and storage” – Christine Boles, @intel via @insightdottech
What use cases will benefit most from the latest processors?
The first big area is, of course, within the industrial and federal spaces—use cases that have a high demand for compute, whether that’s machine vision kinds of applications or detecting defects and taking action on them.
There’s an emerging area around digital twin capabilities, where you have both visibility and the ability to have a representation of what is happening on the factory area. It’s then expanding into evolving areas around automation. One example is within the utility space with the modernization of the grid, bringing greater levels of software-defined capability, as well as management of the grid infrastructure or process automation.
Another big area is machine vision. How can manufacturers improve the detection of defects or of quality inspection from a range of cameras? It’s a question of gathering that information in, accurately analyzing it, and then acting upon the data that the images brought in. The capabilities we’ve built into the Xeon Scalable processors with the AMX extensions will really allow for these workloads to be processed and managed.
The same kinds of improvements we have in industrial spaces, you can also think about them being utilized in the consumer-focused industries of the retail environment—the hospitality types of spaces. Over the past few years there’s really been a change in what is available to go into stores or hotels, with self-checkout kiosks, for example. Having a 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor-based solution, with its additional AI and analytics capabilities, will allow for new capabilities for consumer interaction as people enter a store, as well as assessing any preferences that those customers may have. And, of course, it can be helpful on the back end as well, with robotics for assessing logistics in the warehouse and the back room, and managing the overall inventory.
The last area I would mention is one that has even more opportunity than most—the healthcare and life sciences area. That space could really utilize the AI extensions and support that have been built into these 4th Gen Xeon Scalable processors to assess images or to do advanced analysis on genomics and sequencing. It’s going to be exciting to see how medical-equipment manufacturers utilize some of the new capabilities we’ve put into these processors.
What role will they play as more networks and workloads move closer to the edge?
One of the exciting parts of the next-generation platform that we’ve been working on with these Xeon Scalable processors is the range of workloads that it enables. One of these is this shift from what have traditionally been more fixed-function network architectures to what is evolving into more of a software-based, virtualized network environment. The Xeon Scalable processors’ capability allows solutions providers to have more of that software-defined network environment, while at the same time utilizing AI and machine learning capability for the information that’s flowing through the network and optimizing it.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
The 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors really help not only with performance and security and in all the other ways I’ve already discussed, but we’ve also kept in mind what is needed to support reliable use in ruggedized environments. We offer a broad range of SKUs of these processors that have been specifically built to cater to the long-life and reliability needs of an industrial-commercial offering, including ones available for a temperature range of 0°C–84C°. I mentioned the range of cores and performance that the Xeon Scalable processors bring; that’s also reflected in the range of SKUs, which can be scalable to answer the question of what it is that the workload really needs.
Bottom line, we have ensured that solutions providers utilizing these 4th Gen Xeon Scalable processors will have the capabilities they need in performance acceleration for AI workloads or networking workloads and analytics, but also have the range of power and performance that they need for the environments they’re going into. I’m really excited to see the applications that come to market based on this new generation.
To learn more about the 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, listen to The Power of the 4th Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors and read Intel Boosts Edge Productivity with Processor Innovations. For the latest innovations from Intel, follow them on Twitter and LinkedIn.
This article was edited by Erin Noble, copy editor.