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Centaur announces new SoC featuring an 8-core server-class x86 CPU with AVX512 support and an integrated 20 TOPS AI co-processor

Centaur x86 CPU design with dedicated AI co-processor. (Source: Centaur Technology)
Centaur x86 CPU design with dedicated AI co-processor. (Source: Centaur Technology)
Centaur Technologies has announced that their SoC combining eight x86 cores and a dedicated AI co-processor has posted outstanding results on the MLPerf AI inference benchmarks. This is the industry's first server-class SoC with a dedicated 20 TOPS AI processing capability and is designed to be scalable when augmented with external AI accelerators.

Centaur Technology, a major contributor to the MLPerf initiative, has introduced the industry's first server-class, high-performance SoC with an integrated AI co-processor. The SoC features eight x86 cores and an AI co-processor codenamed NCORE that is capable of 20 TOPS performance for AI inference applications.

The complete technical details of the Centaur processor are still awaited. However, Centaur released some of them to get feedback from the customers and partners. According to Centaur's technical presentation, the reference platform is a 16nm 195mm2 part fabbed by TSMC and is clocked at 2.5 GHz. There are eight x86 cores each with 16 MB L3 cache and they work together to deliver 20 TB/s to the 20 TOPS AI co-processor. The SoC also offers 44 PCIe lanes and four channels of DDR4-3200 RAM, and the CPU is designed to process AVX-512 instructions with high IPC.

Centaur said it has submitted audited preview scores to MLPerf to demonstrate the capabilities of this processor. The NCORE AI co-processor was shown to have an inference capability equivalent to that of 23 high-end CPUs from "other x86 vendors", which included the Intel Xeon Platinum 8163, HanGuang 800, Intel Xeon Silver 4116, Core i7-7820HQ, etc. The NCORE AI co-processor could classify an image in less than 330 microseconds. The NCORE AI co-processor is also scalable and can be augmented with other GPUs or AI accelerators. 

Centaur may have competition from the likes of the Tachyum Prodigy processor that aims to do way with the traditional heterogeneous system architecture (HSA). A prototype system based on Centaur's new SoC will be demonstrated at the International Security Conference and Exposition (ISC) East in New York on November 20 and 21. It remains to be seen if and how these technologies get distilled for consumer applications in the future.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 11 > Centaur announces new SoC featuring an 8-core server-class x86 CPU with AVX512 support and an integrated 20 TOPS AI co-processor
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam, 2019-11-19 (Update: 2019-11-19)
Vaidyanathan Subramaniam
I am a cell and molecular biologist and computers have been an integral part of my life ever since I laid my hands on my first PC which was based on an Intel Celeron 266 MHz processor, 16 MB RAM and a modest 2 GB hard disk. Since then, I’ve seen my passion for technology evolve with the times. From traditional floppy based storage and running DOS commands for every other task, to the connected cloud and shared social experiences we take for granted today, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed a sea change in the technology landscape. I honestly feel that the best is yet to come, when things like AI and cloud computing mature further. When I am not out finding the next big cure for cancer, I read and write about a lot of technology related stuff or go about ripping and re-assembling PCs and laptops.