When Intel announced that it had turned to technology developed by longtime rival Arm for a new infrastructure processing unit called Mount Evans, it said the technology was co-developed by a cloud-service provider that it wouldn't name: until now.
Google Cloud is that design partner, and it has committed to deploying the technology inside its cloud data centers, Intel plans to announce Wednesday at its Innovation event.
Mount Evans is a chip unlike many of Intel's other designs — instead of running cloud computing apps itself, it helps the cloud providers run data centers more efficiently. Intel's IPU is more than a network controller, which routes traffic, Nick McKeown, Intel's vice president of communications and networking, told Protocol. Mount Evans figures out where the information belongs inside a data center.
"As traffic and data comes in from the networks, its job is to figure out where does it go to next," McKeown said. "It's a new class of devices; they're really kind of a central coordinating function steering traffic between various devices. For us at Intel, we think that for future data centers, these will be very prominent."
Mount Evans is Intel's first ASIC (application-specific integrated circuit) built under the company's IPU business, and it will support up to four Xeon processors that are running apps. Intel didn't say much more about the deal, or the development collaboration, except that it will also release a developer kit to simplify access to the tech in Google's data centers.
Intel rival Nvidia produces a similar chip it calls the data processing unit, or DPU. The explosive demand for cloud computing power has pushed companies to develop technology to help optimize apps with specialized computing requirements, such as machine learning.
Intel's IPU chips perform similar functions as Nvidia's DPUs, helping to offload some of the work performed by central processors onto other chips. Moving workloads onto specialized traffic controllers also helps cloud providers manage their systems more efficiently.
Separately Wednesday, Intel plans to introduce a new line of processors based on its Intel 7 process technology. The 12th-generation series will include 60 processors that will power designs running from high-performance desktops to thin and light laptops. The company said it was shipping about half of the new processors to PC makers, and it will launch the first six desktop chips Wednesday.