During his recent “Vision” event, Intel shared details on its upcoming Arctic Sound-M (ATS-M) GPU. ATS-M is Intel’s general purpose data center GPU. Designed for computing and transcoding operations, it aims to be the backbone of Intel and its customers’ streaming and cloud gaming services.
ATS-M will be available in two versions with respective TDPs of 75W and 150W. It is designed as 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 card shown by Intel is a passive single-slot card. That means it’s designed for use in a high-density, high-airflow data center environment. ATS-M alone wouldn’t deliver stellar gaming performance, but when you pack tens of thousands of them together, there’s no reason Intel couldn’t become a leader in cloud GPU services. Of course, that all depends on the specifics of the platform, the software user interface, and something the public isn’t privy to, pricing.
In particular, ATS-M supports AV1 encoding, which will become a widely adopted 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 said to be offered by Arc desktop GPUs.
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The other interesting application for ATS-M GPUs is cloud gaming. Will these GPUs power the mysterious Project Endgame? While not much has been talked about yet, this could be a future cloud gaming service from Intel, or perhaps a client service powered by Intel infrastructure.
At the Vision event, Intel spoke about the accelerated growth of cloud gaming. It estimates that the cloud gaming market will be worth around $3.2 billion in 2026. This includes Windows and Android cloud gaming services. Nvidia and Microsoft have bet heavily on 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 run seamlessly.
Arctic Sound-M is already being sampled with customers and has been validated for use in at least fifteen designs. We can expect more news about its applications at the time of the scheduled release in Q3 2022.
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