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Double Video: AMD Siena and Intel Substrates
Glass and Cores for All
This week is a very busy week, and it is mostly around two Intel events.
On Monday 18th, Intel has an FPGA Technology Day, essentially giving some long awaited updates on the group in charge of the Altera acquisition. They’ve not been talkative of late, so it will be interesting to see if any information comes from it. Intel made some FPGA updates public last week, but this event is meant to get more into the weeds.
On Tuesday 19th and Wednesday 20th, there is the big one, Intel Innovation. This is an annual event, the public one, compared to the annual Vision event that was behind closed doors six months ago (almost). At this event, Intel will have a platform to showcase updates on its product portfolio, the latest developments for customers in hardware and software, and educate the thousands of attendees about Intel’s position and direction. It’s usually really useful for those who don’t keep track of Intel as closely as some of us, but the value is going to be in those side conversations with partners, developers, and engineers.
Alongside Intel, TechCrunch is also having their event about 30 miles away. Such is the tech space.
But because this week is busy and full of announcements, it means Intel has to space theirs out. As a result, Intel today disclosed more information about its advancements in packaging. We’ve covered extensively technologies like EMIB and Foveros, now coming to the mainstream, however today Intel shed light on a technology not expected to come to market until the end of the decade: Glass Core Substrates.
The concept here is that green thing that holds a piece of silicon, not the motherboard the smaller one, has limitations when you make them big for machine learning hardware. As a result, there are benefits to moving from the current organic substrates, to new glass core substrates. Intel states they’ve already spent $1billion on this over the past decade, and it’s still a few years out, but there needs to be more of an ecosystem push to support glass core. The benefits of glass core are numerous: better signalling in the chip, higher density connectivity, tuning for performance, and also somewhere to put more power delivery to increase efficiency. I didn’t prepare a writeup for the blog on this, but I wanted to share the video I filmed for my YouTube channel.
It runs about eight minutes long, and covers all this in more detail. I’m glad Intel is being a lot more open about technology like this. It was kind of like this when EMIB first poked above the water, and we’ve had good information there.
So while this announcement was today, AMD decided to get into the mix as well. AMD’s EPYC platform, the current generation, is based around Zen 4 cores. We’ve had the regular Genoa chips, offering up to 96 cores, followed by Genoa-X, which tripled the on-board cache, but also up to 96 cores. Bergamo was launched more recently, using optimized Zen 4c cores (exactly same perf/support, but limited to 3.1 GHz and only half the size), and up to 128 of them for cloud deployments. Today AMD is finishing the family with Siena, a 64-core cut down version of Bergamo.
Again, another video, this one is about 9 minutes. But Siena has half the memory channels, 75% of the PCIe lanes, and is designed for deployments that are power or space limited. Bergamo is a density play, but if you don’t need all those memory channels or PCIe lanes, Siena is there to help offer something a bit more middle-of-the-stack. There are some other considerations - it’s a different physical socket, but it allows AMD to go after a market that’s been requesting optimized silicon for a while. Perhaps they’ll bundle some FPGAs in there too.
Those are the two announcements today, and there will be more tomorrow when Intel starts the Innovation event. Unfortunately I had to cancel my plans to actually be there on site, but I’ll be dialling into my important meetings and hopefully bring back insights for everyone. There’ll be a video tomorrow as well - I hope you don’t mind me sharing videos for some of these news style updates.
Any questions, comments, or thoughts, please let me know!