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New Intel Xeon chip to offer 20x better performance

Intel pentium pro and Xeon E5
FPGA and x86 come together for the first time.

Intel is a changing semiconductor manufacturer. It announced that it would ship a Xeon processor with a FPGA (Field-programmable gate array) component.

The latter is connected to the actual processor via Intel's QPI (quick path interface) and can be reconfigured to suit the specific needs of its customers. In other words, the variable part of the can be redesigned to suit new workloads or changing compute demands.

In a post on Intel's data center blog, Diane Bryant, Intel's GM for its Data Centre group, confirmed that the company delivered 15 custom products in 2013 to hyperscale clients including Ebay and Facebook.

Bryant says that Intel will more than double that amount with the Xeon FPGA-powered processor being part of an equation which also includes Xeon Phi and Atom-based Xeon parts.

A new era for Intel?

Low latency and coherent interface should help the new FPGA-infused CPU deliver up to 20x perfornance gains compared to a traditional x86 setup.

Not much is known about the end product though; it will be pin compatible with the existing Xeon E5 LGA 2011 socket and will target data centres and enterprise ecosystems.

The FPGA bit is likely to be sourced from a close Intel partner like Altera who already use Intel's manufacturing plants.

Don't expect it to come to the company's desktop or mobile range or even the company's entry level server processors.

Desire Athow

Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Then followed a weekly tech column in a local business magazine in Mauritius, a late night tech radio programme called Clicplus and a freelancing gig at the now-defunct, Theinquirer, with the legendary Mike Magee as mentor. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global techfests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. He has an affinity for anything hardware and staunchly refuses to stop writing reviews of obscure products or cover niche B2B software-as-a-service providers.