Intel: 2-year-old Nvidia GPU outperforms 3.2GHz Core i7

Intel researchers set out to disprove GPUs are more powerful than CPUs by factor of 100

By Sumner Lemon, IDG News Service |  Hardware

"It wouldn't be the first time the industry has seen Intel using these types of claims with benchmarks," he wrote, providing a link to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission antitrust suit filed against Intel in 2009.

In that suit, the FTC alleged previous benchmark results reported by Intel "were not accurate or realistic measures of typical computer usage or performance, because they did not simulate 'real world' conditions."

Regardless of the exact performance difference between CPUs and GPUs, graphics chips are an increasingly common feature in high-performance computing systems, including extremely powerful computers like China's Nebulae system. Nebulae, which is currently the world's second most powerful computer, is powered by a combination of Xeon server chips and Nvidia GPUs.

Adding GPUs to a system can substantially increases performance, while reducing cost and power consumption compared to systems built using only CPUs, said Yury Drozdov, CEO of Singapore-based server maker Novatte.

Last year, Novatte built a system for a financial customer that wanted to run pricing models. The system, which cost more than US$1 million, used 60 Intel Xeon processors and 120 Nvidia GPUs. A system with similar performance built using Xeon processors alone would cost $1.6 million and consume nearly 28 percent more power, making it more costly to operate than the system built with GPUs, Drozdov said.

For its part, Intel recognizes the importance of having a powerful parallel processing chip in its product lineup to complement its CPU line. In May, Intel announced the development of a 50-core chip called Knights Corner, which the company hopes will fend off competition from graphics chip makers in the high-performance computing space. Intel has not said when Knights Corner will be available.

By comparison, Nvidia's GTX280 has the equivalent of 30 processor cores, while the company's recently announced Tesla M20 series GPUs have 56 cores.

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