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Pat Gelsinger says that silicon without software support is a mistake


The famous computer scientist Alan Kay said that people who really take software seriously should make their own hardware. But according to Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (Pat Gelsinger), it also has the opposite effect: If you want hardware to succeed, you must put software first.

Extensive software compatibility is a fundamental advantage that Intel processors traditionally have over other CPUs, not only because of the x86 architecture, but also because Intel has always worked closely with software developers. But as the world changes, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger must look at software differently than his predecessor. On the one hand, Intel must work with a wider independent software vendor (ISV) ecosystem than before, and work more closely than before. But on the other hand, Intel’s own software can bring a new source of income for the company.

“One thing I learned in 11 years of’holidays’ [at VMware and EMC] It is a mistake to provide a chip that is not supported by the software,” Pat Gelsinger said in an interview CRN“We must provide software functionality, and then we must authorize it, accelerate it, and make it more secure with the hardware under it. For me, this is a major shift that I need to promote at Intel.”

Expanding the Intel software ecosystem

Intel has been trying to ensure that software can take advantage of its latest hardware by properly supporting all the latest instruction set extensions and other technologies aimed at accelerating certain workloads. To a large extent, Intel assisted its partners in creating a software ecosystem optimized for its processors.

Over the years, this approach helped strengthen Intel’s software ecosystem until accelerated computing emerged in the mid-2000s. Nvidia began to actively promote its CUDA platform, while other companies rely on various open or proprietary standards, such as OpenCL, Vulkan, Metal, and OpenAI, to accelerate performance-critical workloads through proprietary hardware. Companies like Apple and Nvidia have created their own software ecosystem. Although not as extensive as Intel, they are competitive enough to attract software developers.

Today, a large number of artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) applications are developed for Nvidia’s CUDA platform and therefore require the company’s hardware and software stack. This naturally poses a challenge for Intel and its data center CPUs and computing GPUs designed for artificial intelligence and supercomputers, because they are now at the other end of the equation: they must compete with the established ecosystem.

When Raja Koduri joined Intel at the end of 2017, his first move at the chip giant was to build an open standard cross-platform application programming interface (API) that allows developers to access CPU, GPU, FPGA and other accelerators Program to eliminate the need for separate code bases and tools for each architecture. Intel calls this oneAPI.


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