Intel Driver Update Confirms VPU Integration in Meteor Lake for AI Workload Acceleration

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Intel yesterday confirmed its plans to extend its Meteor Lake architecture towards shores other than general processing. According to Phoronix, Intel posted a new driver that lays the foundations for VPU (Versatile Processing Unit) support under Linux. The idea here is that Intel will integrate this VPU within its 14th Gen Meteor Lake architecture, adding AI inferencing acceleration capabilities to its silicon. A sure-fire way to achieve enormous gains in AI processing, especially in performance/watt. Interestingly, Intel is somewhat following Apple’s footsteps here, as the company already includes AI-dedicated processing cores in its desktop/laptop Apple Silicon processors since the M1 days.

Intel’s VPU architecture will surely be derived from Movidius’ designs, which Intel acquired back in 2016 for a cool $400 million. It’s unclear which parts of Movidius/Intel IP will be included in the VPU units to be paired with Meteor Lake: whether a full-blown, SoC (System on Chip)-like VPU design such as the Myriad X VPU, or if Intel will take select bits of the architecture (plus the equivalent of five additional years of research and development), sprinkling them on top of their upcoming architecture. We do know the VPU itself will include a memory management unit, a RISC-based microcontroller, a Neural Compute System (what exactly entails this compute system and its slices is the mysterious part) and network-on-chip capabilities.


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