Intel Xeon Phi Delivers New Roads to Increased HPC Performance

The Intel® Xeon® Phi™ is the first x86-based accelerator for heterogeneous HPC environments. A parallel coprocessor with 60 x86 compute cores, Xeon Phi 5110P delivers over 1 TFLOPS of double precision floating point performance. Based upon the Many Integrated Core architecture (MIC) project and development, Xeon Phi is used to scale out traditional HPC cluster designs. The passively cooled Xeon Phi 5110P we are shipping today offers a great balance of ease of use, performance, energy efficiency and cost in a solution optimized for highly parallel HPC workloads.

Phi’s primary advantage is ease of use. Being based upon Intel’s underlying x86 architecture, it is at once familiar and flexible. Many common parallel programming standards are supported meaning that the HPC community will find it easy to port and optimize existing programs to achieve much greater performance levels. Intel’s MIC Architecture programming models are open-standard and portable between Xeon processors and Xeon Phi coprocessors. Using widely available Intel libraries, compilers and debuggers will accelerate the evolution of programs to run on Xeon / Xeon Phi stacks.

Buzz is already building for Phi in many demanding High Performance Computing applications. Homa Karimabadi, a Space Physics Group Leader at the University of California, San Diego has shared that “we have really enjoyed exploring and testing the performance capabilities of the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor. The integrated Intel tool chain allowed us to take code written for Intel Xeon processors and execute on the coprocessors with minimal to no changes – We have seen impressive results on large matrix tests and it’s clear that the compute capabilities have jumped. We look forward to working with Intel and exploring this technology further.”

PERFORMANCE

Phi is Ideal for:

  • High density environments
  • Highly parallel applications using over 100 threads
  • Memory bandwidth‐bound applications
  • Applications with extensive vector use

Xeon Phi 5110P Key specifications:

  • 60 cores/1.053 GHz/240 threads
  • 8 GB memory and 320 GB/s bandwidth
  • Standard PCIe* x16 2.0 device, passively cooled
  • Linux* operating system, IP addressable
  • Wide 512‐bit vector units

Built using Intel’s 22nm process technology—Intel’s most energy efficient process yet—featuring the world’s first 3-D tri-gate transistors, Phi provides the opportunity to add raw processing power at large scale while still living within many existing power constraints. A host of tools from independent vendors, up to and including IBM, are coming soon that will enable developers to manage parallelization, processor and core workload management to optimize performance and minimize wasted clock cycles (and energy).

Intel has provided the following overview and application information for reference:

Intel Xeon Phi Coprocessor 5110P

Intel-Xeon-Phi-Coprocessor-Increases-Application-Performance-up-to-10x

Intel claims to have reached beyond 1 TFLOPS of double precision peak performance in specific applications with Phi, the highest parallel performance per watt of any Xeon processor. The advent of a coprocessor that can also host an operating system opens up interesting new possibilities such as offloading serial tasks back to the host, and further maximizing compute resources. Microway is excited to be shipping Intel Xeon Phi based servers today. Xeon Phi based WhisperStations will ship in Q3 of 2013.

At Microway, We Speak HPC™, and we speak Intel Xeon Phi. Talk to a Microway advisor about how Intel Xeon Phi running in our NumberSmasher Servers may provide you an easier and lower cost roadmap to scalable performance.

Contact us at WeSpeakHPC@Microway.com.

Eliot Eshelman

About Eliot Eshelman

My interests span from astrophysics to bacteriophages; high-performance computers to small spherical magnets. I've been an avid Linux geek (with a focus on HPC) for more than a decade. I work as Microway's Vice President of Strategic Accounts and HPC Initiatives.
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3 Responses to Intel Xeon Phi Delivers New Roads to Increased HPC Performance

  1. Eliot Eshelman Eliot Eshelman says:

    Readers may also be interested in Intel’s Software Conference 2013, which is meeting in several cities:

    http://www.softwareproductconference.com/asmo/

    These sessions are free and include keynotes from the authors of the Xeon Phi programming text.

  2. Avatar Pawel A. says:

    arithmetic performance of Phi, based on a paper by two fellows at Colfax, is pretty similar to the Titan GPU. The advertised bandwidth also. But has anyone compared the speed using a bandwith-bound real-life code?

    • Eliot Eshelman Eliot Eshelman says:

      I think it’s still early days for comparison of GPU vs. Phi. Thus far, I haven’t seen any applications featuring mature support for both GPU and Phi.

      Some groups are working on GPU-accelerating their code and others are moving to Phi coprocessors. This makes a direct comparison difficult.

      ORNL is working to solve this problem with their SHOC benchmark suite.

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