Intel is going big on a new type of processor you’ve probably never heard of

Intel IPUs
(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has unveiled a new roadmap for its infrastructure processors for the network and edge extending out to 2026.

At its Intel Vision 2022 event in Dallas, TechRadar Pro and other media were told the company plans to deliver three new generations of infrastructure processing units (IPUs) within the next four years.

By the end of 2022, we can expect the previously announced Oak Springs Canyon FPGAs and Mount Evans ASICs to be shipped. This second-generation line-up will launch with 200GbE networking.

A little further down the line, Intel expects to follow up with third-generation IPUs (Hot Springs Canyon and Mount Morgan) with 400GbE, and a fourth generation boasting 800GbE, in line with the rising demand for bandwidth.

Intel IPUs

Speaking to press ahead of Vision, Patty Kummrow, CVP and GM of Network and Edge, described the opportunities unlocked by IPUs, the first of which were launched by Intel last summer.

Broadly, the idea is to help cloud and network providers free up CPU performance by offloading functions like storage and network virtualization, which also yields various security benefits. In essence, IPUs are almost identical to data processing units (DPUs).

“IPUs are fundamentally changing how the datacenter can be architected; they are a huge enabler for the changes we see and the evolution of the datacenter,” Kummrow said.

“And we’re seeing a lot of demand and applicability for these devices beyond the hyperscale datacenters too, all the way out to the edge.”

With the coming generations of IPUs, Intel expects to be able to help customers optimize their datacenter resources to an even greater degree and, by extension, increase their profitability.

The IPU roadmap announcement follows the launch earlier this year of new Intel Xeon D processors for network and edge use cases.

The chips are built on the company’s Ice Lake platform and feature integrated AI and crypto acceleration, built-in Ethernet and various other features that cater to common network and edge workloads.

At the time, Intel told TechRadar Pro that the new chips deliver “breakthrough performance” across use cases such as security appliances, enterprise routers and switches, cloud storage, wireless networks, AI inference and edge servers

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.