Intel adds Iris Pro, GVT to Xeon E3-1200 family

May 8, 2014 // 10:29 a.m.

Tags: #crystal-well #edram #gt3e #gvt #gvt-d #gvt-g #gvt-s #intel-gvt #iris-pro #time-slice #virtualisation #xeon #xeon-e3-1200v3

Intel has confirmed plans to bring its high-end integrated graphics platform Iris Pro to its Xeon line of server-oriented processors, starting with the Xeon E3-1200v3 'Crystal Well' product line.

First unveiled back in May last year, Iris Pro (GT3e) sits at the very top of Intel's integrated graphics solutions featuring enhanced performance and embedded dynamic memory (EDRAM) to further boost its capability. Available only on selected models in Intel's Core processor family, the hardware is making the move to the data centre with the news that the Xeon E3-1200v3 processor family will include Iris Pro technology as part of a solution codenamed Crystal Well.

Graphics performance is not usually an important factor in server design; even when high-performance graphics processors do form part of the specification, these are typically used as general-purpose (GPGPU) offload engines to accelerate highly-parallel processing tasks. Even at its highest Iris Pro level, Intel's integrated graphics technology can't keep up with rivals AMD and Nvidia for GPGPU acceleration - but the company has found another reason to upgrade the graphics of its Xeon line: workstation visualisation.

There has been renewed interest in workstation virtualisation of late, with both AMD and Nvidia offering server-oriented graphics boards designed to provide their performance to remote clients. The idea is that instead of buying a £5,000 workstation for every CAD user, video editor or 3D renderer on staff, a company can instead build a smaller number of server systems which can support multiple users - reducing capital expenditure and, theoretically, operating expenditure.

The Crystal Well product family is to be Intel's first entry into what the company is calling the hosted client solution, with virtualisation technologies developed in collaboration with Citrix to feature heavily. Dubbed Intel Graphics Virtualisation Technology, or Intel GVT, the jointly-developed suite provides support for everything from workstation remoting to game streaming and will launch in three flavours: GVT-d, for direct assignment of a given GPU's capabilities to a single user; GVT-s, which adds a virtual graphics driver to allow multiple virtual machines - local or remote - to share access to a GPU; and GVT-g, which allows the sharing of a GPU's resources through multiple concurrent users in a time-slice scenario which provides all the capabilities of the native graphics driver.

'Advancements like these will help our customers be productive any time, anywhere on devices that can help them collaborate faster and “get it done”.' crowed Intel's Frank Soqui following his unveiling of the technology at the Citrix Synergy event late last night. 'By “getting it done” I mean our customers will now have the opportunity to extend their ability to share a complex and professional experiences beyond where the data was created and transformed by simulation and design to where decision making needs to be, in the board room, with a partner, or even executives!'

No release date has been given for the Xeon E3-1200v3 product family.

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