Intel Xe Graphics Being Part Of The First US Exascale Supercomputer Is Great For Linux
Written by Michael Larabel in Intel on 19 March 2019 at 12:00 AM EDT. 21 Comments
INTEL --
Announced on Monday was that the US Department of Energy in cooperation with Argonne National Laboratory will see the "Aurora" supercomputer as the first US Exascale SC coming online in 2021 and featuring Intel's highly anticipated Xe Graphics.

The Intel Xe Graphics are expected to put Aurora over the edge in being the first exascale super computer at least within the United States. Aurora will also feature Optane persistent DIMMs and next-generation Xeon processors. Intel is partnered with Cray on this design for the half a billion USD super computer.

With Aurora expected to run Linux, this means the Linux driver support for Xe Graphics will have to be up to par by 2021. Then again, we wouldn't expect anything less out of Intel and likely should end up seeing good launch-day Linux driver support for compute (and graphics). We know the Intel open-source/Linux driver developers are already working in the direction of Xe Graphics with restructuring to prepare for discrete GPUs / dedicated memory.

It will be interesting to see what programming model will be the focus for Aurora. Intel is pursuing their "oneAPI" initiative in tandem with Xe Graphics and they have also been quick to work on SYCL support for LLVM. We'll likely see SYCL / OpenACC / OpenMP be the primary interfaces for tapping the parallel execution power of Xe hardware. We certainly hope for GPU compute their entire driver stack on Linux will remain open-source and at this point there is no indication pointing to anything else, which is great considering the closed ecosystem and drivers right now for NVIDIA hardware in the supercomputer space.

All in all, Intel already having a win for Xe Graphics in the Linux-dominant supercomputer space is good news for Linux at large, though hardly surprising and we remain very eager to hear more about their Linux driver/software plans as the first Xe products close in next year.

More details on Aurora via the Intel Newsroom.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com 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 OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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