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The New Intel Xeon Scalable Processor Powers the Future of AI

One of the fastest growing and most discussed segments in technology today is artificial intelligence (AI).


The exponential increase in computing power in the last few decades enabled an explosion in machine learning and deep learning development across industries, and compute architectures that start to look and function like a human brain. To accomplish this, we need three things: large data sets to process and learn from; compute power and neural networks to process those large data sets; and personalization through algorithms that learn and adjust quickly and accordingly.

AI will transform the world and will touch almost every industry. In healthcare, for example, Penn Medicine developed a predictive solution using machine learning and AI approaches to address heart failure. Using a data science detection algorithm, Penn Medicine has said they’ve identified ~20 percent more patients in their hospitals who could benefit from heart failure prevention services*.

The next “big thing” in AI is here

Today, Intel made another leap forward to deliver the compute capability and architecture required by AI: the new family of Intel® Xeon® Scalable ProcessorsOpens in a new window. Designed with advanced AI and HPC capabilities, including significant increases in memory and I/O bandwidth, data, scientists will be able to unlock insights faster from data-intensive workloads. It has the capability to accelerate product innovation with its advancements across compute, storage, memory and I/O, which will significantly advance AI.

One key innovation that will significantly improve AI performance is Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions 512 (Intel® AVX 512).  Intel® AVX‑512 instructions give increased parallelism and vectorization, which are important for these workloads. It delivers up to double the flops1 per clock cycle compared to the previous generation Intel® AVX22 for the most demanding computational workloads in applications such as modeling and simulation, data analytics, machine learning, and visualization – the most important enablers of a successful AI system.

Intel® AVX-512 support on Intel Xeon processor Scalable family also enables a converged programming environment for Intel® Xeon® and Intel® Xeon® Phi™ compute nodes. The convergence of compute, memory, network, and storage performance plus software ecosystem optimizations enable a fully virtualized data center able to handle the complexity of advanced analytics and AI workloads.

In terms of the compute capability required for machine and deep learning training and inference, the Intel Xeon Scalable Processor delivers up to 2.2X higher deep learning training and inference performance than the prior generation. And, benefitting from additional software optimizations (e.g. Caffe framework), can achieve up-to 113X deep learning training performance gains compared with non-optimized three-year-old servers, providing a solid foundational architecture for AI workloads3.

Our early-ship customers are already using Intel Xeon Scalable Processors today for AI applications.  For example, Alibaba has broadly adopted artificial intelligence across many business segments. Alibaba’s e-commerce brain serves hundreds of millions of customers globally on Taobao and T-mall platforms with personalized recommendations. Sellers on Alibaba platforms are empowered by Alibaba Store Concierge, an intelligent chatbot, to provide round-the-clock customer service. The new Intel AVX-512 instructions provide much wider vectorization capability, delivering significant latency reduction and throughput enhancements. In some of their business environments, Alibaba has said they’ve seen up to 80 percent performance improvement gen on gen*.

Intel’s AI portfolio

The Intel Xeon Scalable processor joins Intel’s broad (and growing) product portfolio for AI workloads, ranging from general‑purpose compute to highly optimized solutions. The Intel Xeon processors are the mainstay of volume AI deployments. The Intel® Xeon Phi™ familyOpens in a new window applies to problems that require dense compute and very high levels of parallelism. Intel® FPGAsOpens in a new window offer low-latency, low power inference with many different applications in the IoT and automotive space. They also offer outstanding reconfigurability for evolving AI and HPC workloads3 and reduced total cost of ownership (TCO)4.  We’re excited about the upcoming Intel® Nervana™Opens in a new windowASIC, which accelerates training time for neural networks to advance deep learning.

A good example of a workload-optimized solution is Microsoft that uses the combination of Intel Xeon processors and Intel FPGAs to support AI workloads in its Azure cloud platform. Intel Xeon Phi processors, Intel FPGAs and Intel Nervana, along with their optimized set of libraries for applications, all provide a new level of productivity and performance to deploy insightful applications in an easier and more powerful way than ever before*….

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