IPU

Intel Unveils Infrastructure Processing Unit (IPU) for Cloud

Intel unveiled its vision for the infrastructure processing unit (IPU), a programmable networking device designed to enable cloud and communication service providers to reduce overhead and free up performance for central processing units (CPUs). With an IPU, customers will better utilise resources with a secure, programmable, stable solution that enables them to balance processing and storage.

“The Infrastructure Processing Unit is a new category of technologies and is one of the strategic pillars of our cloud strategy. It expands upon our SmartNIC capabilities and is designed to address the complexity and inefficiencies in the modern data center. At Intel, we are dedicated to creating solutions and innovating alongside our customer and partners — the Infrastructure Processing Unit exemplifies this collaboration,” said Guido Appenzeller, CTO, Data Platforms Group, Intel.

The IPU is a programmable network device that intelligently manages system-level infrastructure resources by securely accelerating those functions in a data center.

It allows cloud operators to shift to a fully virtualized storage and network architecture while maintaining high performance and predictability, as well as a high degree of control.

The IPU has dedicated functionality to accelerate modern applications that are built using a microservice-based architecture in the data center. Research from Google and Facebook has shown 22% to 80% of CPU cycles can be consumed by microservices communication overhead.

With the IPU, a cloud provider can securely manage infrastructure functions while enabling its customer to entirely control the functions of the CPU and system memory.

An IPU offers the ability to –

  • Accelerate infrastructure functions, including storage virtualization, network virtualization and security with dedicated protocol accelerators.
  • Free up CPU cores by shifting storage and network virtualization functions that were previously done in software on the CPU to the IPU.
  • Improve data center utilization by allowing for flexible workload placement.
  • Enable cloud service providers to customize infrastructure function deployments at the speed of software.
Patty Kummrow, VP in the Data Platforms Group and GM of Ethernet Products Group at Intel said, “The first of Intel’s FPGA-based IPU platforms are deployed at multiple cloud service providers and our first ASIC IPU is under test.”
Intel will roll out additional FPGA-based IPU platforms and dedicated ASICs. These solutions will be enabled by a powerful software foundation that allows customers to build leading-edge cloud orchestration software.
Evolving data centers will require a new intelligent architecture where large-scale distributed heterogeneous compute systems work together and is connected seamlessly to appear as a single compute platform. This new architecture will help resolve today’s challenges of stranded resources, congested data flows and incompatible platform security. This intelligent data center architecture will have three categories of compute — CPU for general-purpose compute, XPU for application-specific or workload-specific acceleration, and IPU for infrastructure acceleration — that will be connected through programmable networks to efficiently utilize data center resources.

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