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Ice Lake-SP Leaps to 40 Cores

April 20, 2021

Author: Aakash Jani

Intel’s 3rd Generation Xeon Scalable processor, code-named Ice Lake-SP, increases the maximum core count to 40 while upgrading memory and I/O bandwidth. For the first time in four years, Intel upgraded its server CPU microarchitecture, and it simultaneously advanced to the 10nm node. As a result, the flagship Platinum 8380 delivers 52% more multicore performance than its 28-core predecessor. Mainstream models, however, achieve much smaller gains as lower clock speeds and higher power ratings offset modest increases in core count.

The new processor upgrades from the aging Skylake microarchitecture to Sunny Cove, delivering more performance per clock. The 10nm shrink enables far more cores in a slightly smaller die, but it also restricts base and boost frequencies and raises TDP. The new Whitley platform features eight memory channels and upgrades to PCIe Gen4. Ice Lake-SP parts are already in production, and select OEMs are scheduled to debut them in servers later this quarter.

The design slipped two quarters from its originally announced schedule, forcing Intel to add an extra refresh cycle for Cascade Lake last year. Ice Lake-SP is the second member of the 3rd Generation Xeon family, serving one- and two-socket systems while Cooper Lake covers four- and eight-socket configurations. The latter targets HPC OEMs that require large memory nodes; the former is for everyone else.

With Sapphire Rapids expected to launch late this year, Ice Lake-SP will serve for only a short time. Not only will Sapphire Rapids deliver microarchitecture advances, but it will introduce yet another platform. This Eagle Stream platform will help the company keep pace with its main competitor, AMD, but it may deter adoption of the short-lived Whitley and Ice Lake-SP.

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