Intel Unleashes 56-Core Xeon, Optane DC Memory, Agilex FGPAs To Accelerate AI And Big Data

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The Intel Xeon Scalable Family And Conclusion

There is an extensive, diverse array of Intel 2nd Generation Xeon Scalable, Xeon-D, and NFV-specialized processors coming down the pipeline, with various core counts, cache configurations, clocks, and TDPs. Though most of the parts are based on the same core processor technology, different physical dies – and a differing numbers of dies -- are employed to produce the line-up featured here, depending on the core count...

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2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable Processor Line-Up

The 2nd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable product family features core counts ranging from 4 to 56 cores (up to 112 threads) and each segment targets a different market or use case. All of the processors are produced using Intel’s 14nm++ process node, but frequencies and cache configurations vary greatly as you can see in the table above. Workstation processors and lower-core count server chips turbo up into the 3.2GHz – 4GHz range, while the higher-core count products typically turbo into the 3.7GHz – 3.9GHz range, with a couple turbo'ing all the way up to 4.4GHz, which is a big step up over the previous-gen. TDPs range all the way from 70W on up to a massive 400W depending on the model as well. We should mention that the top-end 2nd Gen Xeon Scalable 9282 Platinum 400W parts will be sold with liquid cooling alone, but all of the others can be air or liquid cooled.

The processor SKUs are segmented into 8 different categories, Advanced Performance (which is essentially the entire 9200 series dual-die processors), those optimized for the highest per-core scalable performance, more mainstream scalable performance, those featuring Intel Speed Select technology, and specialized offerings for Networking / NFV applications, VM density, or long life-cycle NEBS thermal friendly environments – there is a LOT to digest in the table above. Note that it is only the highest per-core scalable performance and Speed Select-enabled segments that feature Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze SKUs, however. Save for the specialized, extended life SKUs, all of the others carry only Platinum or Gold designations.

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Pricing, as you would expect, given the wide range of configurations, is all over the map and ranges from a couple of hundred dollars for a 6-core, low-power Bronze series processor to over $10,000 for a Xeon Scalable Platinum 8280. 9200 series pricing wasn’t disclosed, but it will obviously be higher than the 8200; in the case of the 56-core parts, which have double the die area and will be sold with the new chassis, pricing will likely be much higher.

As Intel continues its forward progression, it has bolstered its 2nd Generation Xeon Scalable Processors with additional features, higher frequencies, and many more cores than the previous generation, all of which should culminate into better performance and efficiency. The latest Xeon Scalable series introduces support for Optane DC Persistent Memory, new instructions for AI / Deep Learning acceleration, additional memory bandwidth, hardware mitigations for a handful of Spectre and Meltdown variants, and a host of other architectural improvements – they are upgrades virtually across the board.

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Although it now faces stiff competition from AMD in the segment, which will only get more intense when Rome arrives later this year, Intel’s Xeon products have dominated the data center and professional workstation markets for years. Intel’s strong position, coupled with its diverse array of new 2nd Generation Xeon Scalable series processors, Optane DC Persistent Memory, Agiliex FPGAs, and adjacent products, should help Intel maintain its dominant position moving forward, especially if its upcoming discrete GPUs are competitive when they arrive sometime in 2020. In a nutshell, Intel is lining-up to offer strong solutions for virtually every type of leading-edge data center workload.

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