Top Companies Join a Consortium to Develop CXL

Top Companies Join a Consortium to Develop CXL

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Intel, Alibaba, Cisco, Dell EMC, Facebook, Google, HPE, Huawei and Microsoft announced the founding of a consortium to develop Compute Express Link (CXL). CXL is an open interconnect technology that improves performance and removes the bottlenecks in computation-intensive workloads for CPUs and purpose-built accelerators.

Intel developed the technology behind CXL and donated it to the consortium to become the initial release of the new specification. The explosion of data and rapid innovation in specialized workloads have given rise to heterogeneous computing, where purpose-built accelerators work side-by-side with general-purpose CPUs. These accelerators need a high-performance connection to the processor, and, ideally, they share a common memory space to reduce overhead and latency.

CXL is a key technology that enables memory coherence between the accelerator and CPU, with very high bandwidth, and does so using well-understood infrastructure based on PCI Express Gen 5. More specifically, CXL creates a high-speed, low latency interconnect between the CPU and workload accelerators, such as GPUs, FPGAs and networking. CXL maintains memory coherency between the devices, allowing resource sharing for higher performance, reduced software stack complexity and lower overall system cost.

The first-generation specification will be available to consortium members in the first half of this year. It is expected to see products that incorporate CXL technology starting in Intel’s 2021 data center platforms, including Intel Xeon processors, FPGAs, GPUs and SmartNICs.

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