Intel is making a new kind of processor that you haven’t heard of before

Intel has leaked information about the versatile processing unit, or VPU, a new type of processor that will soon be added to the company’s lineup.

Intel working new type of processor

Even though there hasn’t been a formal announcement, Intel published written information along with a new Linux driver that confirmed the existence of the processor, which is made to speed up AI inference workloads.

According to the documentation, the VPU will be part of Intel’s 14th Gen Core CPUs (also known as Meteor Lake) and will improve inference performance in “computer vision and deep learning applications.” Most likely, it was thought up by the people who worked on Movidius, an AI company that Intel bought in 2016.

Speeding up AI

With competitors like Nvidia fighting to become the best chip maker for AI, Intel will have to think hard about how to show that it is the best in the field.

There are two main types of workload for AI: training and inference. The first term refers to using large datasets to build AI programs with specific features, while the second term refers to adding new data to these systems to get a result.

Due to the amount of data involved, training requires a lot of time and a lot of computing power. Inference, on the other hand, needs to be done almost instantly, so the compute requirements are very different.

Even though there aren’t many details, Intel’s new VPU seems to be made to speed up workloads that interfere across client devices. It is not clear if the company’s line of server CPUs will benefit in the future from similar technology.

Meteor Lake isn’t coming out until late 2023, so the new VPU won’t be used any time soon. However, the chip’s existence gives us more information about Intel’s overall strategy.

The biggest companies

Some of the biggest companies in the world, like Apple, have found that custom silicon designed for their own systems performs much better than general-purpose chips from Intel or AMD. This means that the chipmakers need to find a way to stay competitive.

One option would be to add more specialized SKUs with extra accelerators and co-processors that are designed to make performance better for specific workloads.

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