How Intel's MIC Co-Processors Work On Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 17 October 2013 at 12:47 AM EDT. Add A Comment
For those curious about how Intel's Many Integrated Core Architecture, in particular the Xeon Phi, works on Linux and can be taken advantage of for multi-threaded programming, here's a guide.

As another one of the interesting presentations last month from LinuxCon North America with the slides now being available, Nikhil Rao of Intel covered their MIC co-processors and how the Xeon Phi is supported under Linux.

The Xeon Phi with up to 61 cores and 244 threads while packing up to 16GB of onboard memory makes it quite a beast. Each Xeon Phi card runs Linux and is IP addressable and can deliver 1 TeraFLOPs double-precision peak performance. Intel's Xeon Phi supports offload, native, and symmetric programming models for taking advantage of the many-core architecture. For managing the Xeon Phi hardware there's VirtIO-based virtual device support and PCI Express messaging / RDMA APIs.

Intel hopes to land co-processor OS state management and the VirtIO device support into the Linux 3.13 kernel. There's also additional work planned around SCIF and DMA engine and usage in the VirtIO code. The Linux driver code was previously talked about on Phoronix last summer for the Xeon Phi.

Those wanting plenty of low-level details on the Xeon Phi / Intel MIC can see the LinuxCon PDF slides.

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Michael Larabel is the principal author of and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via

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