Intel’s software-defined silicon will debut with next version of Linux

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Intel’s plans for software-defined silicon (SDSi) will begin to roll out with the next version of the Linux kernel, it has emerged.

The company has been tight-lipped about the SDSi initiative, which says customers will pay additional fees to activate certain features built into their processors. Although Intel has acknowledged the existence of the scheme, it has so far not provided any details on which features can be enabled or disabled and which processors are compatible.

However, a message sent to the Linux kernel mailing list by a Red Hat developer revealed that Intel’s SDSi code will be integrated into the Linux kernel “before the 5.18 merge window,” which begins in late March. The finalized version of Linux 5.18 should land in May.

Intel Software-Defined Silicon

Intel’s flirtation with software-defined silicon first surfaced in fall 2021, when it emerged the company had contributed to the Linux kernel this would activate the dormant features of the processor.

In official statements, the company called the SDSi scheme an experiment that might end up getting nothing. However, as noted The registerit is highly unlikely that Linux maintainers will allow Intel to bloat the kernel as part of an idle experiment.

Although Intel hasn’t provided any real guidance, the goal may be to reduce the number of specialty Xeon SKUs, instead offering a smaller lineup of processors that allow customers to enable or disable specific features to workload as needed. This would benefit the business from a logistical standpoint, in addition to simplifying the product catalog for IT buyers.

The SDSi system could also allow customers to activate unused processor cores when running irregular but particularly compute-intensive workloads, or when a permanent upgrade is required.

Speculators have suggested that Intel’s next-generation Xeon server chips, codenamed Sapphire Rapids, will be the first to support SDSi. But even if early indications suggest the plans don’t extend beyond Intel’s enterprise and data center offerings, who’s to say SDSi has no place in the processor market either. Office ?

Tech Radar Pro asked Intel for additional information on its work on software-defined silicon.

Going through The register

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