Nirvana – a state of enlightenment

I am sure we all wish to achieve in life a place of peace and happiness, or indeed the cessation of individual desires and suffering. These are some of the meanings of Nirvana but I think it’s the meaning held in Hinduism and Buddhism of achieving the highest state that someone can attain which caused Intel to adopt this word to name their latest AI-centred processor.

Let me unveil the NNP-I processor (Nervana Neural Network Processor for Inference). I don’t know if Intel can count but perhaps it should have another ‘N’?
Anyway, to make it even more memorable it has a more user friendly name of Spring Hill.

Apparently Spring Hill is a modified 10nm Ice Lake processor sitting on a PCB which slots in to an M.2 port.

This is Intel’s first processor specifically designed for AI and sees its use mainly in data centres.

Two compute cores and graphics engine have been removed from the normal Ice Lake processor to shoulder in 12 Inference Compute Engines (ICE). By doing this Intel claims the Spring Hill will manage larger workloads at minimal power.

Interestingly Intel developed its first dedicated AI processor after investing in some Israeli AI start-ups. Namely Habana Labs and NeuroBlade. Intel claims this is part of its company’s strategy called ‘AI Everywhere’.

Facebook will be using the Spring Hill processor and Intel already have a further two NNP-I processors in development.

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