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The Buzz on Intel’s New FPGA Chip

next big thing resized 600Intel has been at the forefront of producing faster, more powerful chips for decades. Today, however, an even greater degree of flexibility and versatility are being demanded from CPUs. This has led to the rise of field programmable gate array (FPGA) chips – chips whose core logic can be reconfigured via software.

In an effort to help those companies with large IT estates be able to drive down their operating costs, Intel has married its powerhouse x86 Xeon processors with FPGA.

Current use of FPGA

FGPA chips are already being used in a variety of data centers around the world. Typically, they are used only as a discreet device rather than connected with or packaged together alongside a CPU. They connect via PCI Express for now. Microsoft, for example, has been experimenting with FGPA in some of its data centers and has recorded significant performance enhancement. The FPGA chips have been able to handle some custom Bing search algorithms up to 40 times faster than a CPU.

What will change?

The plan at Intel is to combine a FPGA chip along with the powerhouse Xeon processor that can plug into a currently-standard E5 socket. The processors will use an Intel Quick Path Interconnect in order to link them together.

Once this happens, companies can then go in and customize the logic of the FPGA in order to handle specific workloads for their needs. When the demands for those workloads change, the FPGA can be reconfigured.

Looking ahead

As of now, Intel has not tipped its hat as to what specifications we might see from these chips, or what kind of price range we’re looking at.

What we do know is that Intel is currently supplying customized chips to some of its biggest customers, including giants like eBay and Facebook. While these solutions have been highly customized for the client, Intel has no doubt begun refining its process, and probably already started looking at distribution and large-scale production concerns.

While it could come sooner, most industry experts don’t expect to see the FPGA chip released until perhaps Q4 of this year, if not later.

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Unitiv, Inc., is a professional provider of enterprise IT solutions. Unitiv delivers its services from its headquarters in Alpharetta, Georgia, USA, and its regional office in Iselin, New Jersey, USA. Unitiv provides a strategic approach to its service delivery, focusing on three core components: People, Products, and Processes. The People to advise and support customers. The Products to design and build solutions. The Processes to govern and manage post-implementation operations.