Phoronix reported that Intel released a new Linux OS driver which includes VPU support for the Meteor Lake CPUs. VPU, commonly known as Versatile Processing Unit is a new technology that will be featured on the 14th gen CPUs from Intel.
What is VPU?
VPU stands for Versatile Processing Unit. It is an AI integration which was rumoured last year to be included in Intel’s 14th gen CPUs. It helps to boost up AI performance, acting similar to Apple’s Neural Link. Being attached on the die itself, a massive uplift in deep learning performance should be expected.
Meteor Lake will get an integrated VPU Accelerator. It’s similar to the Neural in the Apple M1 for speech recognition, language models, and conceivably many apps by the time Meteor Lake launches.
— Moore’s Law Is Dead
Consider VPU as NVIDIA’s Tensor cores. While not being an apples to apples comparison, it does give an idea as to what Intel plans. From what I can make out, Intel aims not for beefier cores but rather splitting up tasks between many cores. The Gracemont cores used in Alder lake boosted the performance massively as an example.
To put this into perspective, Moore’s law is dead put up a great example. Assume you are watching 4K Netflix late at night and your connection is being throttled due to high traffic. Your laptop (with the neural engine) can effectively upscale that video from lets say 1080p to 4K. Consider this as a glorified form of DLSS that works across nearly everything. You can watch this video from Moore’s law is dead for a better explanation.
This new driver featuring support for VPU has been licensed under GPLv2. Michael Larabel from Phoronix mentions that the user-space stack will use the “Intel oneAPI Level Zero API and OpenVINO”.
Intel plans to release the VPU code in the open source format in Q3 2022.