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Xeon Phi[1] is a series of x86 manycore processors designed and made by Intel. It is intended for use in supercomputers, servers, and high-end workstations. Its architecture allows use of standard programming languages and APIs such as OpenMP.[2][3]

Xeon Phi
General Info
Max. CPU clock rate1.053 GHz to 1.7 GHz
L1 cache32 KB per core
L2 cache512 KB per core
Architecture and classification
Physical specifications
    • 57-61 (X100 Series)
    • 64-72 (x200 Series)
Products, models, variants
Brand name(s)

Since it was originally based on an earlier GPU design by Intel, it shares application areas with GPUs.[4] The main difference between Xeon Phi and a GPGPU like Nvidia Tesla is that Xeon Phi, with an x86-compatible core, can, with less modification, run software that was originally targeted to a standard x86 CPU.[4]

Initially in the form of PCIe-based add-on cards, a second generation product, codenamed Knights Landing, was announced in June 2013.[5] These second generation chips could be used as a standalone CPU, rather than just as an add-in card.

The Tianhe-2 supercomputer uses Xeon Phi processors.

In June 2013, the Tianhe-2 supercomputer at the National Supercomputer Center in Guangzhou (NSCC-GZ) was announced[6] as the world's fastest supercomputer (as of June 2018, it is No. 4[7]). It used Intel Xeon Phi coprocessors and Ivy Bridge-EP Xeon processors to achieve 33.86 petaFLOPS.[8]

The Xeon Phi product line directly competes with Nvidia's Tesla and AMD Radeon Instinct lines of deep learning and GPGPU cards.


Code Name Technology Comments
Knights Ferry 45 nm offered as PCIe card; derived from Larrabee project
Knights Corner 22 nm derived from P54C; vector processing unit; first device to be announced as Xeon Phi
Knights Landing 14 nm derived from Silvermont/Airmont (Intel Atom);[9] AVX-512
Knights Hill 10 nm cancelled
Knights Mill 14 nm nearly identical to Knights Landing but optimized for deep learning


The Larrabee microarchitecture (in development since 2006[10]) introduced very wide (512-bit) SIMD units to a x86 architecture based processor design, extended to a cache-coherent multiprocessor system connected via a ring bus to memory; each core was capable of four-way multithreading. Due to the design being intended for GPU as well as general purpose computing, the Larrabee chips also included specialised hardware for texture sampling.[11][12] The project to produce a retail GPU product directly from the Larrabee research project was terminated in May 2010.[13]

Another contemporary Intel research project implementing x86 architecture on a many-multicore processor was the 'Single-chip Cloud Computer' (prototype introduced 2009[14]), a design mimicking a cloud computing computer datacentre on a single chip with multiple independent cores: the prototype design included 48 cores per chip with hardware support for selective frequency and voltage control of cores to maximize energy efficiency, and incorporated a mesh network for inter-chip messaging. The design lacked cache-coherent cores and focused on principles that would allow the design to scale to many more cores.[15]

The Teraflops Research Chip (prototype unveiled 2007[16]) is an experimental 80-core chip with two floating point units per core, implementing a 96-bit VLIW architecture instead of the x86 architecture.[17] The project investigated intercore communication methods, per-chip power management, and achieved 1.01 TFLOPS at 3.16 GHz consuming 62 W of power.[18][19]

Knights FerryEdit

Intel's Many Integrated Core (MIC) prototype board, named Knights Ferry, incorporating a processor codenamed Aubrey Isle was announced 31 May 2010. The product was stated to be a derivative of the Larrabee project and other Intel research including the Single-chip Cloud Computer.[20][21]

The development product was offered as a PCIe card with 32 in-order cores at up to 1.2 GHz with four threads per core, 2 GB GDDR5 memory,[22] and 8 MB coherent L2 cache (256 KB per core with 32 KB L1 cache), and a power requirement of ~300 W,[22] built at a 45 nm process.[23] In the Aubrey Isle core a 1,024-bit ring bus (512-bit bi-directional) connects processors to main memory.[24] Single board performance has exceeded 750 GFLOPS.[23] The prototype boards only support single precision floating point instructions.[25]

Initial developers included CERN, Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) and Leibniz Supercomputing Centre. Hardware vendors for prototype boards included IBM, SGI, HP, Dell and others.[26]

Knights CornerEdit

The Knights Corner product line is made at a 22 nm process size, using Intel's Tri-gate technology with more than 50 cores per chip, and is Intel's first many-cores commercial product.[20][23]

In June 2011, SGI announced a partnership with Intel to use the MIC architecture in its high performance computing products.[27] In September 2011, it was announced that the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) will use Knights Corner cards in their 10 petaFLOPS "Stampede" supercomputer, providing 8 petaFLOPS of compute power.[28] According to "Stampede: A Comprehensive Petascale Computing Environment" the "second generation Intel (Knights Landing) MICs will be added when they become available, increasing Stampede's aggregate peak performance to at least 15 PetaFLOPS."[29]

On 15 November 2011, Intel showed an early silicon version of a Knights Corner processor.[30][31]

On 5 June 2012, Intel released open source software and documentation regarding Knights Corner.[32]

On 18 June 2012, Intel announced at the 2012 Hamburg International Supercomputing Conference that Xeon Phi will be the brand name used for all products based on their Many Integrated Core architecture.[1][33][34][35][36][37][38] In June 2012, Cray announced it would be offering 22 nm 'Knight's Corner' chips (branded as 'Xeon Phi') as a co-processor in its 'Cascade' systems.[39][40]

In June 2012, ScaleMP announced a virtualization update allowing Xeon Phi as a transparent processor extension, allowing legacy MMX/SSE code to run without code changes.[41] An important component of the Intel Xeon Phi coprocessor's core is its vector processing unit (VPU).[42] The VPU features a novel 512-bit SIMD instruction set, officially known as Intel Initial Many Core Instructions (Intel IMCI). Thus, the VPU can execute 16 single-precision (SP) or 8 double-precision (DP) operations per cycle. The VPU also supports Fused Multiply-Add (FMA) instructions and hence can execute 32 SP or 16 DP floating point operations per cycle. It also provides support for integers. The VPU also features an Extended Math Unit (EMU) that can execute operations such as reciprocal, square root, and logarithm, thereby allowing these operations to be executed in a vector fashion with high bandwidth. The EMU operates by calculating polynomial approximations of these functions.

On 12 November 2012, Intel announced two Xeon Phi coprocessor families using the 22 nm process size: the Xeon Phi 3100 and the Xeon Phi 5110P.[43][44][45] The Xeon Phi 3100 will be capable of more than 1 teraFLOPS of double precision floating point instructions with 240 Gbit/s memory bandwidth at 300 W.[43][44][45] The Xeon Phi 5110P will be capable of 1.01 teraFLOPS of double precision floating point instructions with 320 Gbit/s memory bandwidth at 225 W.[43][44][45] The Xeon Phi 7120P will be capable of 1.2 teraFLOPS of double precision floating point instructions with 352 Gbit/s memory bandwidth at 300 W.

On 17 June 2013, the Tianhe-2 supercomputer was announced[6] by TOP500 as the world's fastest. Tianhe-2 used Intel Ivy Bridge Xeon and Xeon Phi processors to achieve 33.86 petaFLOPS. It was the fastest on the list for two and a half years, lastly in November 2015.[46]

Design and programmingEdit

The cores of Knights Corner are based on a modified version of P54C design, used in the original Pentium.[47] The basis of the Intel MIC architecture is to leverage x86 legacy by creating an x86-compatible multiprocessor architecture that can use existing parallelization software tools.[23] Programming tools include OpenMP,[48] OpenCL,[49] Cilk/Cilk Plus and specialised versions of Intel's Fortran, C++[50] and math libraries.[51]

Design elements inherited from the Larrabee project include x86 ISA, 4-way SMT per core, 512-bit SIMD units, 32 KB L1 instruction cache, 32 KB L1 data cache, coherent L2 cache (512 KB per core[52]), and ultra-wide ring bus connecting processors and memory.

The Knights Corner instruction set documentation is available from Intel.[53][54][55]

Xeon Phi
X100 Series
Clock (MHz) L2
Memory Peak DP
Form Factor Released
Base Turbo System Chan-
Xeon Phi 3110X[56] SE3110X 061 (244) 1053 - 30.5 MB 06 GB
Dual Channel
240 1028 300 Bare board PCIe 2.0 x16 card November, 2012
08 GB 8x 320
Xeon Phi 3120A[57] SC3120A 057 (228) 1100 - 28.5 MB 06 GB 6x 240 1003 300 Fan/heatsink 17 June 2013
Xeon Phi 3120P [58] SC3120P 057 (228) 1100 - 28.5 MB 06 GB 6x 240 1003 300 Passive heatsink 17 June 2013
Xeon Phi 31S1P[59] BC31S1P 057 (228) 1100 - 28.5 MB 08 GB 8x 320 1003 270 Passive heatsink 17 June 2013
Xeon Phi 5110P[60] SC5110P 060 (240) 1053 - 30.0 MB 08 GB 8x 320 1011 225 Passive heatsink 12 Nov 2012
Xeon Phi 5120D[61] SC5120D 060 (240) 1053 - 30.0 MB 08 GB 8x 352 1011 245 Bare board SFF 230-pin card 17 June 2013
Xeon Phi SE10P[62] SE10P 061 (244) 1100 - 30.5 MB 08 GB 8x 352 1074 300 Passive heatsink PCIe 2.0 x16 card 12 Nov. 2012
Xeon Phi SE10X[63] SE10X 061 (244) 1100 - 30.5 MB 08 GB 8x 352 1074 300 Bare board 12 Nov. 2012
Xeon Phi 7110P[64] SC7110P 061 (244) 1100 1250 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1220 300 Passive heatsink ???
Xeon Phi 7110X[65] SC7110X 061 (244) 1250 ??? 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1220 300 Bare board ???
Xeon Phi 7120A[66] SC7120A 061 (244) 1238 1333 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1208 300 Fan/heatsink 6 April 2014
Xeon Phi 7120D[67] SC7120D 061 (244) 1238 1333 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1208 270 Bare board SFF 230-pin card March ??, 2014
Xeon Phi 7120P[68] SC7120P 061 (244) 1238 1333 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1208 300 Passive heatsink PCIe 2.0 x16 card 17 June 2013
Xeon Phi 7120X[69] SC7120X 061 (244) 1238 1333 30.5 MB 16 GB 8x 352 1208 300 Bare board 17 June 2013

Knights LandingEdit

Code name for the second generation MIC architecture product from Intel.[29] Intel officially first revealed details of its second generation Intel Xeon Phi products on 17 June 2013.[8] Intel said that the next generation of Intel MIC Architecture-based products will be available in two forms, as a coprocessor or a host processor (CPU), and be manufactured using Intel's 14 nm process technology. Knights Landing products will include integrated on-package memory for significantly higher memory bandwidth.

Knights Landing contains up to 72 Airmont (Atom) cores with four threads per core,[70][71] using LGA 3647 socket[72] supporting up to 384 GB of "far" DDR4 2133 RAM and 8–16 GB of stacked "near" 3D MCDRAM, a version of the Hybrid Memory Cube. Each core has two 512-bit vector units and supports AVX-512 SIMD instructions, specifically the Intel AVX-512 Foundational Instructions (AVX-512F) with Intel AVX-512 Conflict Detection Instructions (AVX-512CD), Intel AVX-512 Exponential and Reciprocal Instructions (AVX-512ER), and Intel AVX-512 Prefetch Instructions (AVX-512PF). Support for IMCI has been removed in favor of AVX-512.[73]

The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center announced that Phase 2 of its newest supercomputing system "Cori" would use Knights Landing Xeon Phi coprocessors.[74]

On 20 June 2016, Intel launched the Intel Xeon Phi product family x200 based on the Knights Landing architecture, stressing its applicability to not just traditional simulation workloads, but also to machine learning.[75][76] The model lineup announced at launch included only Xeon Phi of bootable form-factor, but two versions of it: standard processors and processors with integrated Intel Omni-Path architecture fabric.[77] The latter is denoted by the suffix F in the model number. Integrated fabric is expected to provide better latency at a lower cost than discrete high-performance network cards.[75]

On 14 November 2016, the 48th list of TOP500 contained 10 systems using Knights Landing platforms.[citation needed]

The PCIe based co-processor variant of Knight's Landing was never offered to the general market and was discontinued by August 2017.[78] This included the 7220A, 7240P and 7220P coprocessor cards.

Intel announced that were discontinuing Knights Landing in summer 2018.[79]


All models can boost to their peak speeds, adding 200 MHz to their base frequency when running just one or two cores. When running from three to the maximum number of cores, the chips can only boost 100 MHz above the base frequency. All chips run high-AVX code at a frequency reduced by 200 MHz.[80]

Xeon Phi
7200 Series
Clock (MHz) L2
MCDRAM Memory DDR4 Memory Peak DP
Part Number
Base Turbo Quantity BW Quantity BW
Xeon Phi 7210[81] SR2ME (B0) 64 (256) 1300 1500 32 MB 16 GB 400+ GB/s 384 GB 102.4 Gbit/s 2662
20 June,
SR2X4 (B0)
Xeon Phi 7210F[82] SR2X5 (B0) 230 HJ8066702975000
Xeon Phi 7230[83] SR2MF (B0) 215 HJ8066702859400
SR2X3 (B0)
Xeon Phi 7230F[84] SR2X2 (B0) 230 HJ8066702269002
Xeon Phi 7250[85] SR2MD (B0) 68 (272) 1400 1600 34 MB 3046
215 HJ8066702859200
SR2X1 (B0)
Xeon Phi 7250F[87] SR2X0 (B0) 230 HJ8066702268900
Xeon Phi 7290[88] SR2WY (B0) 72 (288) 1500 1700 36 MB 3456
245 HJ8066702974700
Xeon Phi 7290F[89] SR2WZ (B0) 260 HJ8066702975200

Knights HillEdit

Knights Hill was the codename for the third-generation MIC architecture, for which Intel announced the first details at SC14.[90] It was to be manufactured in a 10 nm process.[91]

Knights Hill was expected to be used in the United States Department of Energy Aurora supercomputer, to be deployed at Argonne National Laboratory.[92][93] However, Aurora was delayed in favor of using an "advanced architecture" with a focus on machine learning.[94][95]

In 2017, Intel announced that Knights Hill had been canceled in favor of another architecture built from the ground up to enable Exascale computing in the future. This new architecture in now expected for 2020–2021.[96][97] The terms Exascale computing and high performance computing (HPC) got meanwhile linked by intel towards their own term Omni-Path Architecture (OPA) in publications.[98]

Knights MillEdit

Knights Mill is Intel's codename for a Xeon Phi product specialized in deep learning,[99] initially released in December 2017.[100] Nearly identical in specifications to Knights Landing, Knights Mill includes optimizations for better utilization of AVX-512 instructions and enables 4-way hyperthreading. Single-precision and variable-precision floating-point performance increased, at the expense of double-precision floating-point performance.

Xeon Phi
72x5 Series
sSpec number Cores
Clock (MHz) L2
MCDRAM Memory DDR4 Memory Peak DP
Part number
Base Turbo Quantity BW Quantity BW
Xeon Phi 7235 SR3VF (A0) 64 (256) 1300 1400 32 MB 16 GB 400+ GB/s 384 GB 102.4 Gbit/s TBA 250
Q4 2017 HJ8068303823900
Xeon Phi 7285 SR3VE (A0) 68 (272) 1300 1400 34 MB 115.2 Gbit/s TBA 250 HJ8068303823800
Xeon Phi 7295 SR3VD (A0) 72 (288) 1500 1600 36 MB 115.2 Gbit/s TBA 320 HJ8068303823700


An empirical performance and programmability study has been performed by researchers,[101] in which the authors claim that achieving high performance with Xeon Phi still needs help from programmers and that merely relying on compilers with traditional programming models is still far from reality. However, research in various domains, such as life sciences,[102] deep learning[103] and computer-aided engineering[104] demonstrated that exploiting both the thread- and SIMD-parallelism of Xeon Phi achieves significant speed-ups.


See alsoEdit


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