What Is Intel® Quick Assist Technology (Intel® QAT)?
Intel® QAT is an integrated workload acceleration feature on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors purpose-built to improve performance and achieve greater efficiencies in compute-intensive processes, including workloads in AI, analytics, application and content delivery, high-speed networking, and more.
As data sets continue to scale exponentially, these advanced use cases require more resources and greater performance. Such demanding workloads amplify the need for data compression and decompression, cryptographic ciphers, and public key cryptography to support operations and protect the integrity of data in use, in flight, and at rest.
While compression and encryption make it possible to handle large files and advanced applications, the enabling processes themselves consume significant compute resources.
Intel® QAT offloads these computationally intensive operations from the CPU cores, allowing the CPU to perform other tasks more efficiently for greater overall system performance, efficiency, and power.
Intel® QAT boosts workload performance to meet the demands of today’s data-intensive and network-dependent workloads, helping systems to serve more clients with a lower data footprint and higher performance. Intel® QAT can deliver significant acceleration for data compression as well as symmetric and asymmetric data encryption and decryption.
Intel® QAT on Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors
Intel® QAT is a built-in accelerator on 4th Gen and newer Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors that improves performance and helps protect data across today’s fastest-growing workloads. In combination with other specific integrated accelerators, Intel® QAT is a key component of Intel® Accelerator Engines for HPC, analytics, network, and storage workloads.
Benefits of Intel® QAT That Drive Business Outcomes
Intel® QAT supports new efficiencies and scalability for the cloud, data centers, networks, large data lakes, and storage tiers.
- Improved CPU Performance and Efficiency: Intel® QAT offloads compute-intensive compression and decompression operations from the CPU cores, which improves CPU efficiency for greater overall system performance. Because Intel® QAT is built into the CPU itself, it supports more encrypted client connections and content delivery than devices without accelerators. Intel® QAT is supported on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors or system-on-chip (SoC) Intel® Xeon® D processors. Experience up to 1.64x higher perf/W on SQL Server 22 with 5th Gen Intel Xeon Platinum 8592+ using integrated Intel QAT vs. 4th Gen AMD EPYC 9554 using default compression.1
- Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): Intel® QAT helps reduce TCO by accelerating encrypt and decrypt, public key cryptography, and data compression workloads on existing hardware and increasing power efficiency with leading performance per watt.
With Intel® QAT, an Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor-based system can achieve significant improvements in performance and efficiency. Further, fewer cores are required to achieve the same result, supporting a lower data footprint and significantly reduced power consumption.
- Support for Scalable Solutions: Intel® QAT is integrated into Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors across a range of product and package configurations, making its acceleration capabilities highly available and scalable for a wide variety of solutions. Some Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors can be configured with up to four Intel® QAT accelerators on a single CPU.
Intel® QAT Use Cases
Use cases and users that can benefit most from Intel® QAT include cloud services, enterprise data centers, storage, and networking.
Cloud Service Providers
Cloud service providers (CSPs) can use Intel® QAT to get more out of existing infrastructure and deliver more value to customers with a reduced CPU footprint. Intel® QAT on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors delivers data compression and data encryption at scale to support content-delivery networks (CDNs), load balancers, gateways, and microservices. CSPs can serve more users while providing the necessary high-performance guard band required to fend off distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks that can slow down CDNs.
Intel® QAT compression can provide efficiencies for storage, databases, big data, or CDNs with compression services. The efficiency of Intel® QAT compression brings performance and significant power reduction to common data-rich applications.
Enterprise-class organizations can operate more efficiently and reduce costs when deploying hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and web applications, thanks to higher web server capacity and performance.
Improved performance allows enterprise systems to serve content quickly, connect more clients and users to content with high-performance public key cryptography, and improve the load time and responsiveness of web applications.
Intel works with ecosystem partners in the enterprise sector to improve performance on business-critical applications and use cases. For example, Red Hat optimized its Enterprise Linux platform for Intel® QAT and found that the resulting hardware-accelerated compression can be 9x to 137x faster than software-based compression.2 Intel® QAT also offloads demand from the CPU cores, so more CPU cycles can be available for other computing tasks.
When activated, Intel® QAT on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors can deliver significant performance on fewer cores compared to similar systems without Intel® QAT.
Organizations can leverage Intel® QAT to reduce TCO and power consumption in storage architecture while meeting growing demands for performance. With Intel® QAT, data compression and decompression tasks are completed faster when performing backup and archiving for application data or distributed storage systems and data lakes.
For example, Microsoft demonstrated that Intel® QAT helps to accelerate compression and decompression of backup files, even while running Microsoft SQL Server 2022 workloads simultaneously,3 as the compute-intensive backup processes are offloaded from the CPU cores. Customers can experience up to 2.56x higher Microsoft SQL Server and Backup performance with 5th Gen Intel Xeon Platinum 8592+ using integrated Intel QAT vs. 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Platinum 8380 using default compression.4
Greater efficiencies can also be gained with the new Zstandard compression algorithm supported by Intel® QAT. For example, Meta and Intel achieved significant improvements in throughput and performance per watt when they introduced Intel® QAT into a Zstandard pipeline.5
Networking Edge and Core
Intel® QAT accelerates encryption and decryption of network traffic, which can improve performance for virtual private networks (VPNs), load balancers, content delivery networks, and web servers using fewer cores than would be required without Intel® QAT.
Intel® QAT supports the additional capacity needed from the service mesh to keep up with user plane input. This extra boost helps organizations meet tough service-level agreements (SLAs) while managing power consumption in the 5G control plane. Additional networking-specific use cases highlight the benefits of Intel® QAT for these and other workloads.
Get Started with Intel® QAT
Intel provides application-specific drivers, code libraries, software tools, and other resources to help solution architects and developers take full advantage of Intel® QAT.
Step 1: Assess your system design
Begin by analyzing your needs for compression and decompression efficiencies in storage, big data, database, or other data-intensive functions. Also consider acceleration options for ciphers, hash, and public key data encryption, including TLS, QUIC, IPsec, or WireGuard for cloud security, VPN and firewalls, SD-WAN, or content delivery.
Step 2: Acquire Intel® QAT-enabled hardware
Start with an Intel® QAT-enabled platform based on Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. To determine which Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor is right for your use case, sign in or sign up to use the Intel® Xeon® Processor Advisor Tool.
Step 3: Review Intel® QAT technical resources
- Read the product brief for additional information on how Intel® QAT works to accelerate cryptographic operations and data compression workloads and a list of workload-specific resources.
- Review technical documentation and application information and gain access to Intel® QAT-specific software packages, development kits, drivers, code libraries.
- Visit the Intel® Developer Zone to find software and development products, explore tools and technologies, and connect with other developers.
- Explore the Intel® Developer Cloud, a service platform for developing and running workloads in Intel®-optimized deployment environments with the latest Intel® processors and performance-optimized software stacks.
Step 4: Follow the Getting Started Guide
Access the Intel® QAT Getting Started Guide on GitHub for instructions on how to obtain, build, install, and exercise Intel® QAT software for the Hardware Version 2.0 package.