The new data center processors are designed for HPC, AI, edge and 5G.
Intel has launched its 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable processors, which the company described as its most advanced data center platform. During a virtual launch event on Tuesday, Intel said it is now shipping its long-anticipated processor, code-named “Ice Lake.”
Ice Lake is designed for high-performance computing (HPC), intelligent edge, artificial intelligence (AI) and powering 5G network solutions. Embedded with AI accelerators, the new processors include Intel’s new Optane Persistent Memory 200 Series, available with up 6 terabytes of memory per socket. The persistent memory bandwidth is 32% greater than the previous version, according to Intel.
The Ice Lake processors are available in configurations ranging from 8 to 40 cores, with support for PCIe-Gen4, which provides high-speed data interfaces to storage and network components. Intel claims the new processors provide an average 46% performance boost over its 2nd Gen Xeon processors. Also new in its latest Xeon processors are embedded AI acceleration and enhanced security with support for its Software Guard Extension (SGX) and Crypto Acceleration.
Intel said it already shipped 200,000 units in the first quarter of this year. Now, the company’s broad ecosystem can start broadly selling new wares based on the 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable processor. Major servers and network equipment suppliers, cloud providers and telecommunications carriers are planning to incorporate Ice Lake into their offerings.
“This new processor family offers a flexible architecture that delivers built in AI acceleration and advanced security capabilities that are so necessary in a world of workload diversification and growing complexity,” said Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger.
“We have a broad range of SKUs optimized to meet all customer requirements from the edge to the network to the cloud,” added Navin Shenoy, EVP and general manager of Intel’s data platform group.
Security Enhanced with SGX
Intel also is bringing its SGX hardware-based trusted execution environment (TEE) technology to the new processors. Until now, Intel’s SGX was only available for its Xeon E processors, designed for entry-level servers.
Now available for its 2-socket Xeon Scalable processors, SGX can isolate and process up to 1 terabyte of code. SGX makes it possible to use aggregate data sets while still securing and keeping data private, according to Shenoy. The ability to isolate data sets into secure enclaves enables the use of aggregate information without using personally identifiable data.
Enabling Confidential Computing in Microsoft Azure
Among those implementing Intel’s Gen 3 Xeon Scalable processors is Microsoft, which is using it to enable confidential computing. Microsoft Azure CTO Mark Russinovich appeared at the launch to preview its offering of confidential computing with the new processors. Microsoft has piloted this capability with several customers, including RBC Bank, for multiparty computing simulations.
“We consider confidential computing as an extension of our general-purpose fleet,” Russinovich said. “And on top of these new Intel processors, we’re also going to be offering …