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Intel 2022 Investor Meeting: Arc GPUs, Server Processors, Endgame Project and more

The long-awaited Intel Arc GPUs for laptops are finally here and are expected to be shipped to customers in the first quarter of 2022, the company said at the annual Intel 2022 Investors Meeting. The company also discussed how far it has gone and where it plans to go under CEO. Guided by Pat Helsinger.

On February 15, Pat Gelsinger ended the year as Intel CEO. He took the helm from Bob Swan when the silicon giant was steadily losing leadership in the semiconductor industry for at least a couple of decades. Gelsinger, a 30-year-old Intel veteran who has held several senior management positions during his previous tenure, was brought in to revive the fading wealth of the company, which is in a technologically suspended state.

And it seems to work. Helsinger is finding a breath of fresh air if you turn Intel’s struggle with Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) domestically, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), Samsung and others around the world.

After Helsinger took office, the company announced a new roadmap to regain first place as the world’s leading chip maker on the Intel Accelerated webcast in July 2021. The company lags behind TSMC, NVIDIA, AMD and even TSML in terms of market capitalization in 2021.

In addition to a new, more appropriate way of naming chips, the ambitious plan included efforts to address technological and supply chain problems affecting the development and production of advanced technological components. Intel’s difficult transition to a 10nm node when its competitors began mass-producing a 7nm node reflected the poor shape in which the company was located.

Since then, the company has announced Intel 7, 4 (7 nm), 3 (5 nm) and 20A (Angstrom; 1 nm = 10 Å), and for the first time invaded graphics space (GPU). He is now investing heavily in production through Intel Foundry Services under the Integrated Device Manufacturer or IDM 2.0 program. It should be noted that Intel is also focusing on chip packaging (RibbonFET replaces FinFET), not just on process nodes.

The chipmaker has doubled those ads by investing $ 20 billion each on the Arizona Ocatilla campus and two new divisions in Ohio. It is also an investment $ 3.5 billion in New Mexico semiconductor manufacturing and acquired the Israeli company Tower Semiconductors, a provider of custom foundries.

Pat Gelsinger presents the Intel Roadmap at the 2022 Intel Investors Meeting

Of course, in the next two or even three years, none of this will happen. Intel expects that from 2025 the situation will change. But Bob O’Donnell, an analyst at TECHnalysis Research, is not convinced of “Intel’s ability to perform.”

“I think the vision and strategy are strong, but there are still questions about their ability to perform,” O’Donnell told Reuters. “The progress and deadlines they set out seem reasonable.”

O’Donnell’s doubts may be related to how Intel outsources its advanced production nodes (7 nm and below) similar to TSMC, which currently produces 54% of all semiconductors in the world. But Gelsinger is confident that Intel will double its revenue and quadruple its shareholder value by the end of this decade.

This week at an Intel investor meeting, Intel presented an update on its progress to return to the top, a major part of which is the Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics (AXG) group. The company plans to use the unprecedented demand for semiconductors for IoT devices, cloud computing and data centers, electric vehicles and mobile devices to dominate space by the end of the decade.

Let’s take a closer look at what Intel is preparing.

Intel Arc GPU

Intel Arc GPUs, the company’s first discrete graphics card in a long time, are ready and expected to ship this quarter. These GPUs will support high-performance computing and offer more choice to users who have to manage the NVIDIA-AMD duopoly when it comes to discrete GPUs.

However, as mentioned earlier, this will be a long way for Intel because future Arc graphics cards, i.e. Alchemist, are still in the first generation of their kind. BattleImage, a second-generation Arc GPU, is scheduled to be released in 2023-24, while Celestial, a third-generation Arc GPU, will appear for another two years.

Intel says it will supply more than 4 million discrete Arc GPUs in 2022. Alchemist and BattleImage are positioned as alternatives to the lower and mid-range NVIDIA GTX / RTX and Radeon series from AMD. On the other hand, Celestial is designed for the “ultra-enthusiast segment”.

Intel Arc GPUs

Intel Arc GPU Roadmap

Given that Intel’s 12th-generation Alder Lake H- and KS series are scheduled for release in March 2022, the company could combine them with the Alchemist GPU. Intel has announced the 12th generation Alder Lake KS series at CES 2022 in January. With a clock speed of 5.5 GHz, this is Intel’s answer to the Apple M1 chip.

However, only Arc GPUs are ready for laptops, and therefore desktop users may still have to wait until the second quarter of 2022 due to unforeseen delays. Intel has not named a reason for the delay, but chipmakers are facing restrictions on semiconductor supplies due to high demand. Arc GPUs are manufactured on TSMC N6 node.

Interestingly, Intel eats up the capacity of TSMC, even if it increases its own. This is far from the time when it kept closed its foundries to make chips for others.

Intel works with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), such as HP, ASUS, Dell, Alienware, MSI, Samsung, Gigabyte, NEC, Lenovo, etc., to design additional boards. The company said fifty of those designs are ready and that software partners are now integrating their apps and games for compatibility with Arc. Intel estimates that AXG will receive $ 1 billion in 2022 and $ 10 billion by 2026.

Supercomputers

In addition to GPUs, AXG focuses on supercomputer space. It will integrate Xeon-based processors with its new GPUs to provide high-performance computing (HPC) and AI workloads. These are:

  • Sapphire Rapids with High Memory Bandwidth (HBM): Intel claims that the integrated offering provides 4 times more memory bandwidth and 2.8 times better performance than previous generation processors.
  • Arctic Sound-M: GPU for supercomputers. Intel said it has the AV1 hardware encoder, the industry’s first for the GPU. To understand the scale of the recoding capabilities it presents, consider the following: it can include 30 1080p streams or eight 8K streams simultaneously. Will be available by mid-2022.
  • Falcon Shores: a new product that will be available once Angstrom chips are ready. It combines a processor and an Intel Xe graphics processor. It is estimated that performance per watt 5 times, computing density 5 times, memory capacity and bandwidth 5 times increased compared to current platforms.

Blockchain, supercomputers at the border, premium infotainment programs for cars, exciting displays, etc., will be serviced by Custom Compute Group AXG.

The finale of the project

Another ambitious initiative of AXG is Project Endgame, which the company teased at a meeting of investors. From what we could understand from the limited information available in Project Endgame, it appears that this is a cloud service, possibly based on a subscription model, for user access to Arc GPUs.

“Project Endgame will allow users to access Intel Arc GPUs through a service for always available low-latency computing,” said Intel.

Server processors (data center and AI)

The third-generation Intel Xeon processors, dubbed Ice Lake (10nm) and Sapphire Rapids (Intel 7), are scheduled to be released later in 2022. The company will release Emerald Rapids in 2023 (Intel 7) and Sierra Forest and Granite Rapids in 2024 (both based on Intel 3).

Intel is also developing a dual-channel roadmap for products based on Performance-core (P-core) and Efficient-cores (E-core) cores. Sierra Forest is based on this new nameless design.

Other businesses

Intel will continue to advance its client computing business with Raptor Lake (Intel 7; H2 2022), Meteor Lake (Intel 4; 2023), Arrow Lake (Intel 20A; 2024), Lunar Lake, etc.

Intel Foundry Services also focuses on the automotive sector, which is currently suffering from chip shortages.

To ensure compatibility for fast adoption, performance optimization, cross-platform and open development for the familiar developer experience, Intel insists on creating oneAPI toolkits. Variations include:

  • Intel OneAPI Basic Toolkit: Developing Applications for Intel CPUs, GPUs, and FPGAs
  • Intel oneAPI HPC Toolkit: create, analyze and scale applications in computing systems with shared and distributed memory.
  • Intel oneAPI AI Analytics Toolkit: for data science and machine learning pipelines using Python tools and frameworks.
  • Intel oneAPI Rendering Toolkit: For creators of visuals.
  • Intel oneAPI IoT Toolkit: application development for Edge et al.

Concluding remarks

Shares of Intel fell about 0.55% before the closing call on Thursday, but losses continued to rise during non-business hours. By the end of the extraordinary session, the company’s stock had lost just over 1.7% in price since the start of the day and nearly 1.2% since the closing call, indicating that short-term shareholders are selling their positions.

For long-term investors, competitors and, most importantly, customers, Gelsinger’s message is: “Intel’s return train is leaving the station, and I hope you all sit on board. That’s an ambitious goal, but I’m sure Intel’s best days are ahead. “

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