Intel apparently cancels its most intriguing CPU hybrid yet
An Intel project around two years in the making (and likely several more years of research) has been canceled, meaning the company will no longer be channeling efforts into creating a CPU-VPU hybrid, at least for now.
Codenamed Thunder Bay, Intel had been working on a system-on-chip (SoC) combining CPU cores from its Xeon processor with VPU cores from Movidius, after acquiring the company in 2016 for its computer vision processor designs.
However, a Linux patch discovered by Phoronix now reads: “Remove Thunder Bay specific code as the product got canceled and there are no end customers or users.”
Intel Thunder Bay canceled
Though details on Thunder Bay have been scarce, it’s likely that the SoC chip may have seen uses in IoT applications as smart technology becomes increasingly ubiquitous.
Alongside the CPU aspects of the SoC, VPUs would have lent themselves well to machine vision applications, being low-power microprocessors and AI accelerators designed to take some of the load off traditional CPUs.
It’s unclear why Intel pulled the plug on Thunder Bay, though it’s likely that the company continues to struggle amid the economic pressures that led it to lay off at least 500 workers in the San Francisco area earlier this year (via layoffs.fyi).
One Reddit user posted: “I know people who worked on this who thought this was going to be a big product line, such a shame.”
Another asked: “What will Intel cancel next!?” Earlier this year, Intel killed off its RISC-V developer environment while many of its products including the Xeon have faced lengthy delays recently.
Despite several indications of suffering, the company remains fairly hopeful for the year ahead as it navigates what CEO Pat Gelsinger described as a series of “short-term” challenges. Whether this means it will return to axed projects once it is able to is unclear, however, for now at least, the CPU-VPU hybrid is over.
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