In recent years, with the rapid development of AI Artificial Intelligence, deep learning, neural network and other technologies, programmable “universal chip” FPGA (field programmable gate array) is also gaining more and more attention. On December 19, 2018, the grand opening of Intel FPGA China Innovation Center in Chongqing Xiyong Micro Electronics Industrial Park made FPGA the focus of the whole industry.

On the other hand, as the exclusive sponsor of Intel’s FPGA innovation center server products, Dell Eason provided the innovation center with the 14th generation of PowerEdge series servers equipped with FPGA. This also made Dell Eason attract much attention at this unveiling ceremony.

Why are FPGAs so popular from Intel to Dell Eason? Why did Intel choose Dell as the exclusive sponsor of FPGA innovation center server? What is Dell’s judgment and expectation on the market prospect and future development of FPGA technology? For users, what are the benefits of choosing FPGA solutions?

In the interview with Cao Zhiping, senior vice president of Dell Eason global and general manager of enterprise solutions in Greater China, Wang Kun, President of Dell Eason China Research Institute, Chen Jun, director of enterprise solutions in Greater China, Ling Weicai, architect of high-performance computing solutions and director of high-performance computing laboratory in Greater China, the answers to these questions will also be revealed one by one.

Technical advantages of FPGA chip

“Why does FPGA get more and more attention? Because it has many advantages: high performance, low power consumption and strong flexibility. First of all, from the perspective of application, FPGA has a wide range of applications, especially in those scenarios where the serial arrangement of data needs to solve the operation, such as gene sequencing, deep learning, big data analysis, security application, supercomputing, storage coding, etc. FPGA is particularly outstanding, and in many application scenarios, its The performance will be 10 times or even 100 times faster than the general-purpose processor, and the power consumption is very low. It can be rewritten continuously. ” Cao Zhiping said, “In addition to server solutions, the FPGA solutions provided by Dell Eason can also be perfectly combined with many cloud platforms for daily applications, such as kubernetes, a very popular container management software. At the same time, our Asaka service platform can also support applications on heterogeneous OpenCL devices, so that FPGA resources can be better and more flexible scheduled, and the platforms supporting OpenCL can better operate.”

“As programmable hardware, FPGA is very different from traditional hardware. After programming, it can have strong flexibility and support differentiated customization, such as changing the function of FPGA at any time. In terms of performance, GPU performs very well in floating-point operation, while FPGA has more advantages in reasoning type of whole-point operation.” Wang Kun said.

“In short, FPGA is like Lego building blocks that can be assembled into anything. Although the overall effect is not as good as one-piece products, the advantage is that it can change according to demand at any time. What you use it today is Optimus Prime, and tomorrow you can turn it into Megatron.” Chen Jun said.

Cao Zhiping revealed that although FPGA is a relatively new technology, Dell Eason has made some attempts with users for a long time. For example, a well-known domestic voice interactive artificial intelligence enterprise adopts Dell Eason FPGA server platform to develop and run AI applications; A famous science and Engineering College in China also adopts Dell Eason FPGA architecture for life science research; The exploration and analysis of many other application scenarios have also been carried out in succession. It can be predicted that FPGA will become an increasingly important chip in the future. As a new important technology trend, heterogeneous computing with deep integration of CPU + FPGA has become an inevitable choice for industrial development, which has brought important opportunities for downstream machine system and software development.

Why did Intel choose Dell Eason

Among the powerful server product providers, why did Intel only choose Dell Eason as the exclusive sponsor of its FPGA innovation center server products?

Cao Zhiping said: “FPGA is a computing component that needs to be run on the server to work. Dell Eason is a system level solution provider and the first manufacturer to provide FPGA support. It includes the understanding and implementation ability of FPGA technology, management tools combined with cloud platform, management of FPGA virtualization applications, and utilization efficiency of computing resources… If all these service capabilities are considered comprehensively At present, Dell Eason is the best choice. For application developers, Dell Eason has also formed a very unique advantage: through our series of product portfolios, we can help them make more efficient use of the advantages of FPGA, better control cost problems, bring higher work efficiency and greater flexibility, and play the best effect in the development process. “

“Compared with other friends, Dell Eason has three advantages: first, it has rich global IT resources, and FPGA has been verified in life science in American laboratories; second, we cooperate with many partners, including Intel, NVIDIA and a large number of ISV independent software developers. Only open cooperation can do things better; third, we have many local training institutions and resources, such as joint laboratories In addition to verification, HPC, AI and other training can also be provided for partners and users. ” Ling Weicai said.

“What we want to emphasize is that Dell is very open to all kinds of emerging technologies. We don’t pay special attention to the growth of short-term business, but we focus more on the general direction. It’s like ‘truth may be late, but it won’t be absent’. I think good technologies may be late, but they will break out sooner or later. This is our concept all the time. It’s precisely because based on this concept, whether it’s FPGA, new AI technology or chip , as long as we feel that there are application prospects and good driving forces for business development, we will take the initiative to embrace them. ” Cao Zhiping said, “the second point is that Dell Technology Group is much stronger than before. In the past, our innovation and R & D capabilities were more reflected in the hardware level, but now we focus on end-to-end solutions combining software and hardware. These innovative achievements with partners, combined with our strong competitiveness, can reflect the strong competitiveness with differences.”

The singularity of FPGA is coming

With excellent technical advantages and a wide range of application scenarios, FPGA shows great market potential in the fields of Pan artificial intelligence, 5g, unmanned driving, intelligent terminal, data center and so on.

According to statistics, the global FPGA market scale in recent years is basically about US $5 billion to US $6 billion. The latest report from global market insights shows that the FPGA market will have a compound annual growth rate of 8.4% from 2015 to 2022, and the scale is expected to exceed US $9.98 billion by 2022.

However, at the same time, even Intel, which is fully promoting FPGA, acknowledges that FPGA still faces many challenges in terms of talent, technical threshold and industrial ecology. So for FPGA, when will the singularity break out?

In this regard, Cao Zhiping believes that in the medium and long term, FPGA has very good application scenarios and market prospects. Otherwise, Intel would not spend $16.7 billion to acquire Altera, a programmable chip manufacturer. However, there may be some disputes in the industry about when the singularity will come.

“However, from the perspective of embracing new technologies, Dell Eason will definitely actively embrace and fully support FPGA. Because one of the great charm of science and technology is that there are great uncertainties, failures and pain, but sometimes success comes too fast, business volume grows explosively, and even delivery will be very difficult.” Cao Zhiping said, “Moreover, we really see that FPGA can bring great value to users in some specific business scenarios. Therefore, we are very optimistic about and constantly emphasize the future prospect of FPGA. In addition, in recent years, the development of cloud computing technology, the construction of customer multi cloud platform and the popularity of artificial intelligence technology have created a great demand for additional computing power, which has promoted the substantial growth of the server market. Once the singularity comes, it is likely that FPGA will become the next new technology that will greatly promote the growth of the server market. “

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