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Intel ‘Skylake’ processors for PCs will not support AVX-512 instructions

Intel Corp.’s forthcoming central processing units code-named “Skylake” for personal computers will not support any AVX-512 instructions, according to a media report. Only Xeon processors for servers and, possibly, workstations will support 512-bit instructions.

Support of 512-bit SIMD instructions – known as AVX3 – was expected to be a key feature of Intel “Skylake” processors, which would help the chips to demonstrate extremely high performance in applications that take advantage of the innovation. However, Intel decided not to enable any AVX-512 instructions in consumer versions of the code-named “Skylake” processors, reports Bits & Chips web-site. While future Xeon chips that belong to the “Skylake” generation will support select AVX-512 instructions. Apparently, even Xeon processors featuring the new cores will not support certain 512-bit instructions supported by Xeon Phi “Knights Landing” co-processors.

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As it turns out, only “Cannonlake” processors due in late 2016 or early 2017 will support most AVX-512 instructions, but not all of them. It is also unclear whether consumer versions of “Cannonlake” CPUs will have comprehensive support of 512-bit instructions.

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Several years ago it was reported that Intel Xeon processors with “Skylake” micro-architecture will support AVX 3.2 technology with 512-bit instructions. Intel Xeon Phi “Knights Landing” is expected to support AVX 3.1 instructions.

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While 512-bit instructions will be useful for high-performance computing applications, in client PCs they could improve performance of demanding multimedia applications. Exclusion of AVX-512 support from consumer processors will slowdown adoption of the new instructions by software developers. In fact, without AVX 3.2 the new “Skylake” processors will bring almost no innovations compared to “Haswell” and “Broadwell” chips from instruction-set point of view.

Intel did not comment on the news-story.

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KitGuru Says: Intel’s decision not to enable 512-bit instructions on consumer “Skylake” processors is clearly a strange one. The hardware to support AVX-512 is in the processors and it is unlikely that it uses so many transistors that disabling this technology dramatically improves yields of Intel’s central processing units.

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