Intel unveils highest performing data-center processors, made with Israel team

With a promised performance 46% higher than previous generation’s, Ice Lake includes built-in AI performance, encryption and cybersecurity features

Shoshanna Solomon is The Times of Israel's Startups and Business reporter

Intel Corp. unveils its highest-performing data-center processor, Ice Lake Server, sired in Israel (Intel Corp)
Intel Corp. unveils its highest-performing data-center processor, Ice Lake Server, sired in Israel (Intel Corp)

Intel Corp. has unveiled its highest performing data-center processor, optimized for the cloud and high-end computing and promising a performance 46% higher than the previous generation of products. The core of the processors, called Ice Lake Server, launched by the US tech giant on Tuesday, was developed in Haifa and produced at its Kiryat Gat plant in Israel.

Intel said that its latest, third-generation scalable Xeon processors, which use 10 nanometer process technology, are optimized for multi-cloud environments and enable the world’s broadest range of workload requirements, including 5G networking, artificial intelligence (AI), high performance computing (HPC), and intelligent edge infrastructure.

The firm hopes the processors will give it an edge in the competitive data center market.

The US tech giant said that all of the world’s largest cloud service providers, including Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Dell, plan to offer the new Intel processor-powered services in 2021, including providers of infrastructure-as-a-service, e-commerce, content distribution and social media.

Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel holds up the new processor (Intel Corp)

“Our 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable platform is the most flexible and performant in our history, designed to handle the diversity of workloads from the cloud to the network to the edge,” said Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel, in a statement. “Intel is uniquely positioned with the architecture, design and manufacturing to deliver the breadth of intelligent silicon and solutions our customers demand.”

The processors come with eight to 40 cores per processor and a wide range of frequency, feature and power levels, the firm said. They also promise increased memory bandwidth and memory capacity per processor of up to 6 terabytes. The processors deliver 1.5 times more performance than other central processing units, and 1.58 times higher performance on cloud microservices usage versus prior generation platform, enabling faster business decisions, Intel said on a fact sheet about the processor.

They are also equipped with built-in cybersecurity features, SGX, also developed by teams in Israel; built-in artificial intelligence performance that is 74% faster than that of prior generation processors; and built-in crypto acceleration, for businesses that run encryption-intensive workloads, such as online retailers who process millions of customer transactions per day. These can leverage the new capability to protect customer data without impacting user response times or overall system performance, Intel said. The processors are the only data processors with built-in AI capabilities, the company added.

Intel’s Xeon processor cores have been deployed in the cloud since 2013, and have been the foundation for multi-cloud environments, the company said.

The Ice Lake Wafer, sired by the Israel team of Intel Corp (Intel Corp)

Israel is home to the largest Intel development center in the world, and the Israeli team’s contribution to the company’s global technology development is seen as significant. The 7th and 8th generation Intel processors were developed mainly in Israel. The firm’s factory in Kiryat Gat is considered one of the most advanced and highest quality among Intel factories around the world.

The US firm employs 14,000 workers in Israel — 7,000 in development and 4,900 in manufacturing. There are an additional 2,100 workers employed in Mobileye, Moovit and Habana Labs. Intel bought Mobileye a self-driving technologies Jerusalem based firm for $15.3 billion in 2017. The US firm bought Moovit in May 2020 for $900 million and chip maker Habana Labs in 2019 for $2 billion.

Amid increased competition and suffering from manufacturing delays, last year Intel said that it could start outsourcing the manufacturing of its chips when necessary, casting a pall over some of its in-house chipmaking operations.

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