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Intel May Make AVX-512 a Paid DLC-Styled Add-On for Next-Gen Xeon Sapphire Rapids-X CPUs

Intel has added support for its Software Defined Silicon “SDSi” functionality to the next version of Linux. Although still a murky topic, the primary impact of SDSi on microprocessors will be similar to the impact of paid DLCs on AAA games. Locked features (instructions?) that can be only enabled by paying an additional fee. The kernel mainlining of the necessary software support has been expanded to land with Linux 5.18.

As noted by Phoronix, Intel is most likely to use SDSi with its workstation-class Xeon Sapphire Rapids slated to arrive later this year, rather than delay it to Granite Rapids. The most obvious (too obvious) use of SDSi is with respect to AVX-512. Although primarily used by applications in the data center, certain content creation workloads can also be accelerated using the 512-bit vector instructions. This, along with the lower-end Sapphire Rapids-SP processors will be the key points where SDSi may be implemented.

Blocking AVX-512 behind a paywall would also simplify the code for server-level applications where multiple users are on the same platform. A user, after paying for the feature, may get access as the admin enables it on the required node(s).

As far as the 12th Gen Alder Lake-S processors are concerned, the hybrid core chips launched with support for AVX-512 allowed upon disabling the efficiency “E” cores. Recently, however, Intel announced the release of a new microcode that will permanently disable AVX-512 across all Z690 motherboards. Most vendors have complied, but MSI has provided a rollback option to the older microcode that supports AVX-512.

Areej

Computer hardware enthusiast, engineering dropout, and PC gamer. Former co-founder of Techquila (2017-2019), a fairly successful tech outlet. Been working on Hardware Times since 2019, an outlet dedicated to computer hardware and its applications.
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