Intel Starts to Close Omni-Path: OPA1 Xeon CPUs on EOL, OPA2 Axed

Intel this week announced plans to discontinue its 1st Generation Xeon Scalable processors with Omni-Path interconnect a year from now. With no 2nd Generation Xeon Scalable products announced to date supporting the technology as well as already cancelled plans for Omni-Path 200 Gbps fabric, Intel is canning the whole project.

Early in the decade, Intel acquired Cray’s interconnect assets as well as QLogic’s InfiniBand technology in a bid to build its own fast, highly-scalable, low-latency interconnect technology for datacenters and supercomputers. The result of Intel’s design efforts was creation of the Omni-Path network fabric technology that was developed primarily with Intel Xeon Phi-based HPC systems in mind. Indeed, Intel’s 2nd Generation Xeon Phi (Knights Landing) were the first to get Omni-Path and eventually the technology found its way into Xeon Scalable F-series CPUs as well as add-in cards for regular Xeon systems. Meanwhile, a lot has changed since 2012 when longer-term roadmap for Omni-Path was set. Intel’s Xeon Phi products have been discontinued and their underline MIC architecture seems to be gone. Besides, there are also a host of new interconnection technologies that would be competing with Omni-Path. As a result, the company canned development of its 2nd Generation Omni-Path interconnect that promised speeds of up to 200 Gbps earlier this year and reportedly advised its customers not to start designs using the OPA 100 technology.

This week Intel said that it would discontinue its Xeon Gold 5117F, Xeon Gold 6126F, Xeon Gold 6130F, Xeon Gold 6138F, Xeon Gold 6142F, Xeon Gold 6148F, Xeon Platinum 8160F, and Xeon Platinum 8176F processors. These are the first generation Xeon Scalable processors with OPA built in to the package. The company’s partners have to make final orders on CPUs by April 24, 2020, whereas the final chips will be shipped on October 9, 2020.

It remains to be seen whether Intel will commit to development of a new high-speed interconnect for HPC in the near future, or will rely on Infiniband HDR 400G or technologies for its next-gen supercomputer designs.

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Sources: Intel, CRN