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Knights Corner's The Beginning: Intel Aims For 1000-Petaflop Supercomputer By 2018

Intel laid down its roadmap in terms of computing performance for the next eight or so years in a press release, and revealed its expectations until 2027 in a deck of slides released last week.

The semiconductor expects a supercomputer capable of reaching 1000 Petaflops (or one exaflop) to be unveiled by the end of 2018 (just in time for the company's fiftieth anniversary) with four exaflops being the upper-end target by the end of the decade.

The slide that was shared with us though, shows that Intel wants to smash the ZettaFlop barrier - that's one million Petaflops or one billion Teraflops - sometime before 2030.

This, Intel expects, will allow significant strides in the field of Genomics research, as well as much more accurate weather prediction.

In comparison, the world's fastest computer, the Japanese K-computer, has just reached eight Petaflops which means that Intel's Exaflop machine would be 125 times faster than today's king of the hill.

What's more astonishing are the predictions made with regards to power consumption. While a Petascale TFLOPS machine currently consumes around 5KW, Intel estimates that an Exascale TFLOPS machine would sip only 20W; in other words, a 1000x performance improvement that's accompanied by a "mere" 10x power increase.

The company outlined its vision at the International Supercomputing Conference where its vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group, Kirk Skaugen, showcased Intel's latest work in its Many Integrated Core (MIC architecture).

Intel also announced that its first MIC product, codenamed Knights Corner, will be produced using its just announced 22nm 3D Trigate manufacturing process, while its software development platform "Knights Ferry" is already being shipped to selected partners.

Another significant point that hasn't been highlighted is the fact that Itanium (or its IA-64 architecture) has been sidelined in the Exaflop race in favour of the EM64T (Xeon Family) with Knights Corner in the role of the GPGPU. Only five systems, or one per cent, in the top 500 fastest computers on the planet are Itanium-based, compared to nearly 100 seven years ago.

Desire worked at ITProPortal right at the beginning and was instrumental in turning it into the leading publication we all know and love today. He then moved on to be the Editor of TechRadarPro - a position he still holds - and has recently been reunited with ITProPortal since Future Publishing's acquisition of Net Communities.