Intel shows off its Arctic Sound-M datacenter GPU

During your recent ‘Vision’ event, Intel shared details about its upcoming Arctic Sound-M (ATS-M) GPU. ATS-M is Intel’s general purpose data center GPU. It is designed for compute and transcoding operations and is configured to form the backbone of Intel’s and its customers’ cloud gaming and streaming services.

ATS-M will come in two versions, with respective TDPs of 75W and 150W. It is designed to be a flexible and scalable solution for cloud providers. A single card can support up to eight 4K streams or more than 30 1080p streams per card, which means up to 120 streams per node or 13,000 per rack.

The board that Intel showed is a single-slot passive board. That means it’s designed to be used in a high-density, high-airflow datacenter environment. On its own, the ATS-M wouldn’t deliver stellar gaming performance, but when you pool tens of thousands of them together, there’s no reason why Intel can’t become a leader in cloud GPU services. Of course, this all depends on the particulars of the platform, the software’s user interface and something that the public will not be aware of, the price.

Notably, ATS-M supports AV1 encoding, which should become a widely used standard for streamers, content providers, and creators. As AV1 becomes more widely used by streaming services, the need for AV1 hardware support could give Intel an important advantage in the short to medium term. AV1 encoding support is also set to be offered by Arc desktop GPUs.

The other interesting application for ATS-M GPUs is cloud gaming. These GPUs will power the mysterious End of Game Project? While it hasn’t been talked about much, this could be a future cloud gaming service from Intel, or perhaps a client service powered by Intel’s infrastructure.

At the Vision event, Intel spoke about the rapid growth of cloud gaming. He estimates the cloud gaming market to be worth around $3.2 billion in 2026. This includes cloud gaming services for Windows and Android. Nvidia and Microsoft bet big on the GeForce Now and Xbox cloud gaming services. And then there’s the metaverse. The growth of cloud applications will require massive amounts of computing power to function flawlessly.

Arctic Sound-M is already sampling for customers and has been validated for use in at least fifteen projects. We can expect more news about their apps around the time of their scheduled release in Q3 2022.

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