Real World Tech analyzes Knights Landing rumors

Intel has revealed relatively few details about Knights Landing, the next-gen processor set to join the Xeon Phi family. This massively parallel chip is designed for high-performance computing applications, and it's set to be manufactured on a 14-nm process. Knights Landing will feature on-package memory and support 512-bit AVX instructions. It's also slated to be available as both a standalone processor and on a PCI Express card.

That's about all we know for sure. However, there are plenty of rumors and leaked slides circulating around the web. Real World Tech's David Kanter has sifted through them all and come up with some informed speculation on what Knights Landing entails. In short, it looks like a beast.

According to Kanter, Knights Landing is likely to have up to 72 individual cores based on a modified version of the Silvermont architecture. The current generation of Bay Trail Atom chips is also based on Silvermont, but the implementation destined for Knights Landing will need to be tweaked to support AVX-512 instructions. These modified Silvermont cores are expected to be arranged in dual-core "tiles" that feature a shared L2 cache that Kanter suspects will weigh in at 512KB.

Knights Landing's embedded DRAM will total up to 16GB, according to slides leaked by VR-Zone. The eDRAM will reportedly be split between eight individual controllers and boast 500GB/s of sustained bandwidth. On top of that, Knights Landing is said to feature a six-channel interface that supports up to 384GB of separate DDR4 memory. Kanter says those memory specifications are accurate, and he suspects Intel's QPI interface will serve as the system interconnect.

Even though it will be fabbed on a 14-nm process, Knights Landing is expected to be a huge chip. Kanter suggests the silicon will measure 700 mm²—nearly three times the size of Ivy Bridge-E, whose silicon has a 257 mm² footprint. Ivy-E has only six cores, but each one is much larger than Silvermont. Also, Ivy-E is fabricated on larger 22-nm process.

Knights Landing isn't due until 2015, so it could be a while before we have definitive details on the chip's specifications.

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