Intel's two new processors have been trumpeted by the company for months, and they are still emphasizing the massive impact that their AI will have on both, and what customers will be able to do with them.
Intel has formally launched two new state-of the art processors, the Intel Core Ultra mobile processor family, and the 5th Gen Intel Xeon processor family. Neither came as any surprise. Intel has been promoting this launch, and its significance for months.
“This is our biggest launch of the year,” Pat Gelsinger, Intel’s CEO, declared at the launch in New York City.
Gelsinger stressed a couple of new terms Intel is using to describe how the company sees the digital economy evolving, particularly from the impact of AI.
“The Siliconomy – this idea that every piece of the economy and our lives is becoming more dependent on digital, and everything digital runs on semiconductors,” he said. “Today, 15% of GDP is fueled by the digital economy. That will be 25% by the end of the decade. And I think that understates the role that AI will have, so maybe a full third of the GDP will be based on silicon.”
Gelsinger also suggested that we reconceptualize and even redefine the way that we look at IT.
“When we think of AI, we tend to think of it as something we can’t control,” he said. “We think it’s a disservice to think about it that way. Instead. maybe Augmented Intelligence, how we integrate it into our human lives and human intelligence, how we make it part of, with us, in everything that we do. We think bringing this value into the human experience is the opportunity for AI – Augmented Intelligence.”
At an event in downtown Toronto, Denis Gaudreault, a 24 year veteran of Intel who is now the Canadian country manager, said that these new processors reflected a complete rethinking of the company’s strategy.
“We weren’t going the right way before,” he said. “Instead of doing the Tik Tok thing, we moved to having a new process technology nodes every two years. We are on track. The Intel 4 Core Ultra processor is our first with 4 nm process technology. Next year, we will have product on the 3, 20A and 18A nodes as well.”
Gaudreault said that there has been an industry-wide delay in bringing key new technologies to market.
“Some of these technologies, we are just seeing the start, like 5G, blockchain – and AI,” he stated. “With the pandemic, we had to make sure that people were safe; people realized that they still had to keep businesses up and running; people needed to transform how they did their business. But they just began to awaken on the role of semiconductors. Just a few companies can now make them, and the others are on the east side of the world. The super high level semiconductors will be what drives silicon demand for years to come.”
Gaudreault said that this lag also applied to AI.
“AI was still very academic two years ago, but we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” he stated. “Now AI is being infused across all our products, including the new ones we just announced. We are looking where the market is going.”
The Intel Core Ultra mobile processor family was formerly known by the code name of Meteor Lake, which the company described the largest transformation of the PC experience in 20 years, since Intel Centrino untethered laptops to connect to Wi-Fi from anywhere. Intel Core Ultra features Intel’s first client on-chip AI accelerator — the neural processing unit, or NPU — to enable a new level of power-efficient AI acceleration with 2.5x better power efficiency than the previous generation.
“NBU is a really big innovation,” Gaudreault said. The enhanced GPU and CPU are each also capable of speeding up AI solutions.
Intel says that over the next year, Intel Core Ultra will bring AI to more than 230 designs from laptop and PC makers worldwide, which will result in AI PCs comprising 80% of the PC market by 2028. Intel is also partnering with more than 100 software vendors to bring several hundred AI-boosted applications to the PC. For example, content creators working in Adobe Premiere Pro will enjoy 40% better performance versus the competition.
Pricing has been determined internally, and will become public early next year.
“There won’t be a big premium for Meteor Lake,” Gaudreault said. “It will be close to where it was before.”
The other new announcement, the 5th Gen Intel Xeon processor family is built with AI acceleration in every core, for increased performance and efficiency. Compared with the previous generation of Xeon, these processors deliver 21% average performance gain for general compute performance and enable 36% higher average performance per watt across a range of customer workloads. Customers following a typical five-year refresh cycle can reduce their TCO by up to 77%.
The 5th Gen Xeon’s built-in AI acceleration, together with optimized software and enhanced telemetry capabilities, also provides 42% higher inference and fine-tuning on models as large as 20 billion parameters. The new Xeons also achieved up to 2.7x better query throughput on its watsonx.data platform compared to previous-generation Xeon processors during testing 10.
“With Gen 5 we are saying you don’t have to build new data centres and you don’t have to stand up new networks, new management, or new security,” Gelsinger said. “We are going to infuse it into every data centre that is built on Xeon. And you don’t need to forklift those applications. That’s what we are announcing today.”
Gelsinger also showed for the first time an Intel Gaudi 3 AI accelerator, which is scheduled for arrival next year.
“NVIDIA is till the leader in this accelerator space, but we are catching up,” Gaudreault said. “This has been very well received by the market because now there is another vendor.”