Intel Spills Some Beans on Software-Defined Xeon CPUs

(Image credit: Intel)

Intel has posted a patch with a sample code of a small program that interacts with its Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) driver. The sample code itself does not reveal any additional details about the initiative, but the very fact that Intel is releasing it now may indicate that the technology will be launched rather sooner than later.

The "sdsi-sample" code is essentially a small user-space program that acts like an interface between the user and the SDSI driver, reports Phoronix. The driver itself enables access to the Intel Software Defined Silicon interface in the CPU to enable silicon features with an Authentication Key Certificate (AKC) and Capability Activation Payload (CAP) license. The program that Intel makes available this month is able to specify a particular CPU socket, read the SDSi register data, and send AKC as well as CAP keys to the driver, which will do the rest of the job. 

The code made available by Intel does not reveal anything new about the Software Defined Silicon technology. But since Intel is making it available now, this may imply that the driver will be released in the foreseeable future, which may be an indicator that Intel is looking forward to enable SDSi on its upcoming 4th Generation Xeon Scalable 'Sapphire Rapids' processor. 

Intel Software Defined Silicon (SDSi) is a is a mechanism for activating additional silicon features in already produced and deployed server CPUs. The technology will allow Intel to meet the immediate needs of its customers (or rather final users) by providing them CPUs in the configurations they require at the moment, leaving the door open for future software upgrades using SDSI if a client needs extra features or just decides to repurpose a server. Such upgradability almost guarantees that Intel's customers do not go to AMD if they need additional functionality and will pay Intel for its technologies. 

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • JWNoctis
    Makes business sense, but if only they'd stop ruining good words and call it what it is.

    Software-defined typically implies better capabilities and more possibilities enabled by hardwares capable of supporting software processing as opposed to fixed-function or even analog hardware, not a licensing scheme locking away what's already there.
  • mitch074
    Dear old Intel... Selling the silicon once, then selling it again to enable features you already bought. I think I'll stay with AMD for now.
  • -Fran-
    Such a missed opportunity from Intel's Marketing... Why not call it what it really is?

    Capability Ready Activation Payload -> CRAP.