Intel Says the Metaverse Needs 1,000x More Compute Power

Intel has raised a red flag regarding the metaverse, warning that more processing power is needed to support the vision. “Immersive computing, at scale and accessible by billions of humans in real time” will require a 1,000x increase in computational capability from today’s state of the art, says Intel senior vice president Raja Koduri, general manager of the company’s Accelerated Computing Systems and Graphics Group. Intel remains enthusiastic about the metaverse, however, conceding in the company’s first official statement on the matter it “may be the next major platform in computing after the world wide web and mobile.”

Pointing out that most of the metaverse hype has been focused on things people will do there, like attend virtual meetings and concerts or collect NFTs, The Verge notes that “the actual building blocks of the metaverse aren’t just going to be software and virtual spaces,” or headsets like Meta Platforms’ Quest line (formerly known as Oculus) or the one rumored to come from Apple in 2022, they’ll be “ the computers and servers that run the vast shared virtual worlds.”

While Koduri told Quartz, “We believe that a standard kind of Moore’s Law curve is only going to get us to about eight or 10x growth over the next five years.”

Koduri predicts algorithms and software improvements will close that gap. “Things like machine learning-powered neural nets, or AI-enhanced computational techniques of the sort that Intel already is using for things like its Deep Link technology or the upcoming XeSS super sampling it’s planning to debut with its Arc GPUs early next year,” writes The Verge.

Adding that reliance on algorithms and AI for an improvement of a hundredfold or more is “a big ask.” Koduri told Quartz that beyond making a five-year timeframe achievable they’ll be critical in managing metaverse energy consumption, which he compares to that of cryptocurrency mining.

In addition to the Intel Arc Alchemist GPU, Koduri says its new Xe architecture and Ponte Vecchio computing and visualization accelerator, both coming to market in 2022, will also help support “a persistently immersive VR world hundreds of millions of people can use simultaneously.”

Intel, Koduri says in a blog post, has “a multigenerational roadmap of high-performance XPUs from client through edge to cloud that move us toward zettascale computing in the next five years.” The company believes, he writes, “the dream of providing a petaflop of compute power and a petabyte of data within a millisecond of every human on the planet is within our reach.”