Computex 2023 | Intel 14th gen Meteor Lake features dedicated VPU to offload AI tasks with minimal power consumption
Intel acquired AI company Movidius back in 2016 and has since introduced a few products including the Movidius Neural Compute Stick and the Myriad X visual processing unit (VPU). Intel incorporated this VPU into select 13th gen Raptor Lake mobile CPUs, but it is with 14th gen Meteor Lake that this VPU will gain more prominence.
According to Intel, AI applications today are primarily focused on enhancing multimedia collaboration and adding effects in video or games. However, tomorrow's AI applications are poised to be even more advanced. A case in point is the Copilot feature present in Microsoft products, including Windows, that is context-aware and can work across apps.
Intel didn't delve into the exact specifications of Meteor Lake CPUs — all we know so far is that the company will transition to a new naming scheme as evidenced by benchmark leaks of the Core Ultra 5 1003H and Core Ultra 7 1003H processors.
The company did, however, talk a bit about AI features coming to the platform. A Meteor Lake SoC will integrate a CPU, VPU, and a GPU, all of which are geared towards accelerating AI workloads. The CPU helps in fast response for light, single-inference, low-latency AI while the GPU is ideal for AI in media and the 3D render pipeline.
The VPU, which is a dedicated low-power AI engine that will feature in all Meteor Lake SKUs, is meant for more intense AI tasks and helps in offloading these from other components. The VPU can help with tasks ranging from auto-framing, gesture recognition, avatar recognition, background blur, and dynamic noise suppression to more advanced functions such as Photoshop Neural Filters and real-time motion capture in Unreal Engine.
Intel hasn't detailed the exact specifications of the VPU nor has it clarified on the power requirements. We do know that Meteor Lake's tiled GPU will be based on Xe-HPG Arc Alchemist so power consumption will be a thing to watch out for, especially in low wattage U-series chips.
That being said, AI isn't exactly new to Intel CPUs. Previously, the company offered DL Boost, which is basically AVX-512 Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) extensions first offered in Cascade Lake.
Since Raptor Lake does not support AVX-512, Intel went the VPU way to bring AI features to these processors. However, this was only enabled in select co-developed OEM designs that took advantage of Windows Studio Effects in Windows 11 and were not accessible to the larger market.
Intel Press Brief