Intel is ready to talk about the metaverse – Quartz



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Among Silicon Valley’s most popular buzzwords, the metaverse reign supreme. Invented by Neal Stephenson in the 1992 novel Snow accident, the metaverse is a new generation immersive Internet experienced through augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

The concept of the metaverse has inspired the tech industry for decades. Long after the appearance of the Second Life virtual world in the mid-2000s, game companies like Epic Games (maker of Fortnite) and Roblox began to describe their worlds as an early version of the metaverse. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook’s parent company to Meta, signaling his intention to design the new immersive Internet in his own image.

Yet few chip companies have gotten into the game. They are essential to making the metaverse a reality. Compared with the huge computing demand for fully immersive virtual worlds, today’s chips are underpowered. They’re also rare: Supply chain issues mean the semiconductor industry is months behind in delivering enough chips for everything from video game consoles to cars.

So far, only one chipmaker, NVIDIA, has announced that it is building a platform for the Metaverse. Called Omniverse, its chips are designed to “connect 3D worlds in a shared virtual universe”.

Intel is now entering the conversation. Intel will launch a new series of graphics processors from the first quarter of 2022, which it announcement in August 2021, and says it will feed the metaverse. Intel’s Raja Koduri, who heads Intel’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group, said in an exclusive interview that the computing power of today’s chips will need to be multiplied by 1,000 to power the metaverse.

Koduri spoke about the path to the Metaverse, his vision for what it will look like, and how Intel wants to help build it ahead of his public remarks at the Real-time conferencing December 13.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What are you telling the world today about the metaverse?

A basic thing that we have always known is that for what we imagined in Snow accident, what we imagined in Loan Player One, for these experiences to be delivered, the IT infrastructure required is 1,000 times greater than what we currently have.

Therefore the [personal computers] are improving, the phone is amazing these days you have a two teraflop GPU [graphics processors] in the phone… and then you have the cloud. There is a lot of progress being made, but it is not enough.

Your thesis is that there is a lot of hype surrounding the Metaverse, who is going to build it and what is going to look like. But before we get to that, chipmakers need to build the infrastructure layer.

Yes, exactly … What I have been pursuing for five years is to prepare the IT framework necessary for the metaverse. You must access the petaflops [one thousand teraflops] of computation in less than a millisecond, less than ten milliseconds for real-time uses.

We have been working in the background on the roads, highways and train lines you need, assuming this civilization is going to happen. When roads are built it’s exciting, but after that nobody cares. And this is where we are coming from. Once all of that is built, you’ll have fun in the Metaverse.

Why is this the first time Intel has spoken publicly about the metaverse?

Because the first building blocks, high performance graphics, are available a few months after their launch. Before, it was speculative. If we start talking about things that are over a year away, it’s like “Too many PowerPoint! We’ll start rolling out in 2022. But it’s a four or five year journey for everyone to have access to better and faster compute. We’re going to build their first set of roads, if we use that analogy, next year and we’ll have some launches coming up early. [2022].

What is Intel’s vision for the metaverse? Is it a coherent space? Is it a series of different metaverse?

We think of it as multiverses that can be connected to each other with accounts or something like that. One version of the metaverse that I personally yearn for is the ability to have this conversation that you and I have in a full immersive environment where I see a video of you and you see a video of me and it’s photo-real, maybe beyond the photo-real. It might be the Superman version of Scott, but one where we can interact and collaborate with people around the world in a more three-dimensional reality. This is the one I’m betting on, sort of Zoom in on steroids.

The other is gaming experiences where we have fun, earn points, and do quests. Then there are the social things that go beyond a simple meeting. It is a continuous social space with avatars and creators. Being able to get people to work collaboratively on things, but they’re all distant. You don’t have to be physically on site to create things, whether it be creating to tell stories or movies or even physical objects. It’s a mine of possibilities.

Game creation, collaboration, social, they can all have different metaverse. And they can connect, but we consider the underlying technological framework to be common.

The path to the metaverse

How far are we from this vision of the metaverse?

You are already seeing the first instances in many shapes and forms. Our current infrastructure with the deployment of broadband and 5G is pretty good in the pockets, but not consistent, as you know. And I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and go from the South Bay to San Francisco and my signal quality and bandwidth are everywhere. Even in the heart of Silicon Valley, it doesn’t make sense. One thing about the metaverse for me is that it’s an ongoing experience. If I am in the world, I am in the world. It’s smooth. Especially if you are wearing a helmet, if it falls off it would be like a punch in the stomach.

The math you need to make a realistic photo of yourself or your surroundings should be pursued anywhere. This means that your PCs, your phones, your edge networks, your compute cell stations, and your cloud computing have to function like an orchestra, in between those three elements that offer this kind of beautiful metaverse. It will take time. Facebook, Microsoft, Google, us, NVIDIA are making this infrastructure ubiquitous, but it will take time and effort.

How do we get there: Are they just better chips, better broadband, and a better cloud? How much does the architecture of the Internet need to change to support this?

I don’t think there needs to be a fundamental change, because you see in video streaming what’s going on – Netflix has centers not too far from you that are streaming video. The disaggregation of the calculation has therefore occurred. We use the word edge computing. Thus, edge training has occurred over the past 40 years, slowly and steadily. I would say we’re still at one percent of that prevalence. But, surprisingly, when things like this happen, it increases exponentially. So from one percent to 90% over the next five or six years, it will happen.

Where to do Web3 [a decentralized vision of the web] and the metaverse intersect? Is decentralization really important to build something like this?

It’s kind of a hot topic too. But I think decentralizing the computation and the mechanisms where we can much more easily transact with each other will help proliferate the metaverse. So this element of web3, decentralization, and also whether we take advantage of crypto as it exists today or some other form, some form of microtransaction payment system that is built into the protocols. , will be amazing.

Do you think blockchains will play a role?

Yes, I think they will, and I think they will also find ways to optimize them so that they can use blockchain without burning a ton of compute cycles, right? Because you need these compute cycles to make your metaverse, don’t waste in doing the ledger validation.

On the environment and the shortage of fleas

How do you build the metaverse in an environmentally friendly way?

This is the biggest technological challenge and an exciting thing for us as engineers, because this 1000x that I referred to at the start, has to be the same or even lower power consumption levels than today. So we have to deliver this 1000-fold increase with the same energy consumption. We believe that a standard type of Moore’s law curve [which outlines exponential computing growth over time] is only going to cause us to grow about eight or 10 times over the next five years.

So algorithms, architectures, neural network algorithms, some of these elements must play a role in increasing their efficiency. And that’s also one of the things we’ve been working on. The algorithms will have to play a big role to get the 1000x. We can do brute force. We can put more computation, like these Bitcoin farms. They throw a ton of [computing power] but it is not energy efficient, as you have rightly pointed out. So there has to be that balance where we do energy efficient computations and hardware, better algorithms, better architectures. This is the path to 1000x.

How are the chip shortages and supply chain issues affecting your vision and timeline?

They do. The upside of being a semiconductor person is that the demand is exploding and the metaverse needs it even more. The burden on us is that we need to be even more efficient to take advantage of our manufacturing capacity. We need to be able to get your metaverse experiences without needing big chips that take up a lot of fabulous capacity.

We have to be many more efficient. Just like environmental awareness – don’t waste water, waste electricity, waste heat – this also applies to semiconductors.

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