Technology giants jointly promote new high-speed CPU interconnect standard CXL to achieve data center performance breakthrough

By Akros Silicon

A consortium of technology companies has created a new standard for computing interconnects, Compute Express Link (CXL), which provides ultra-high-speed interconnects between data center CPUs and accelerator chips.

The alliance includes Intel, Microsoft, Alibaba, Cisco, Dell Essence, Facebook, Google, HP and Huawei. Its purpose is to break through the computing power of the data center and help computers adapt to the data explosion in the Internet of Things era.

Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of Intel's data center division, said in a blog post that CXL will break the bottleneck between CPU and accelerator chips. It can also be seen from this that Intel is not only a CPU company, but also a leader in the entire computer and server industry. Intel said at its recent Architecture Day event that the company's business focuses on the following areas: processing, architecture, memory, software, security and connectivity.

Data processing workloads continue to increase, and the new CXL will accelerate it, with applications such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, rich media services, high-performance computing and cloud applications.

Jim Pappas, director of Intel's technology program, said CXL is an important milestone for data center computing performance and will be the foundational standard for an open dynamic acceleration ecosystem. Recall that Intel was once one of the founders of USB and PCI Express, and this time we can expect a new round of industry innovation and customer value through the CXL standard.

The CXL Specification 1.0 has been approved for sign-on, which will improve communication between the CPU and other devices such as auxiliary processors or accelerators. For higher performance data-intensive applications, it will further improve interconnect performance and provide better storage consistency.

New open standards will help build an open accelerator ecosystem for high-performance, heterogeneous computing. The alliance also encourages other interested companies and institutions to join. It is worth noting that Intel's competitor Advanced Micro Devices has not yet joined the alliance. CXL is an open industry standard with the goal of supporting an open ecosystem that serves data center accelerators and other high-performance computing. The CXL Specification 1.0 version is now available.

Rob Sprinkle, director of infrastructure technology at Google Platforms, said: Google supports open CXL collaboration. CXL provides a rich ecosystem for accelerators, memory and storage technologies that customers will benefit from.

Accelerators include graphics processing units (GPUs), field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and other specially built accelerator solutions. The technology is based on a proven PCI Express (bus interface) infrastructure that leverages PCIe 5.0 physical and electrical interfaces to provide advanced protocols in three key areas.

These include input and output protocols, memory protocols, and coherency interfaces. This allows memory sharing across computer resources. It reduces the complexity of the software stack (a data structure) and the cost of the entire system. This allows users to focus on the target workload without having to focus on redundant memory management hardware in the accelerator.

Microsoft cloud computing Azure engineer Leendert van Doorn said in a statement: Microsoft chose to join the CXL Alliance to promote the development of new industrial bus standards to help the next generation of cloud servers. Microsoft believes that industry collaboration can drive breakthrough innovation in the industry. Our own accelerator hardware, combined with the joint efforts of our alliance members, will be able to enhance computer workloads in many ways, including deep learning and high-performance computing, which will ultimately benefit customers.

CXL is designed as an industry open standard interface for high-speed communications, as accelerators are increasingly being used to complement CPUs to support a variety of emerging applications, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. Companies that join the CXL Alliance can get CXL spec 1.0.

Facebook Technology and Strategy Director Vijay Rao said: Facebook is pleased to join CXL as one of its founding members, aiming to create a new standard for an open accelerator ecosystem that will lay the foundation for an efficient next-generation computer.

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