Sapphire Rapids Scales to 60 CPUs, 8 Sockets

Intel’s new Xeon delivers upgrades in core count and accelerators. It also updates the company’s server platform with PCIe Gen5, DDR5, and CXL.
Joseph Byrne
Joseph Byrne

Intel’s fourth-generation Xeon Scalable processor, code-named Sapphire Rapids, boosts integer performance over its Ice Lake-SP predecessor by 43% through a combination of greater IPC and higher core count. Despite having touted SPECint and SPECfp for years, the company is spotlighting the chip’s performance on metrics that benefit from its accelerators, unique instructions, and other features. These features enable the new Xeon to excel at workloads specific to individual market segments, such as communications service providers, storage OEMs, and operators of large key-value databases.

Available to lead customers since 2022 and generally available starting January 10, Sapphire features the same high-performance CPU as the Alder Lake PC processors. The biggest throughput-optimized model has 60 CPU cores, and the fastest single-thread-optimized model runs at a 4.2GHz peak single-core speed. Integrating up to 112.5MB of L3 cache, the new chip has eight DDR5 DRAM channels. A Max version provides 64GB of High Bandwidth Memory. New I/O interfaces include PCIe Gen5 and CXL.

In addition to targeting high-performance computing (HPC) with Max, Intel offers other models to target communications infrastructure. For these systems, the new Xeon adds FP16 AVX-512 instructions for signal processing, and it integrates encryption, compression, and error-correction accelerators. Engines for moving and compressing data, new security features, and Golden Cove’s AMX AI-accelerating instructions cater to data-center customers.

These application-specific features are critical to success for the new Xeon. Although 60 CPUs was once an unfathomable scale, it now pales compared with the 96 in rival AMD’s fourth-generation Epyc (Genoa) processor. Customers maximizing CPU performance per socket will find Genoa the better choice. Those with less demanding requirements will find contenders from both companies. Whereas Genoa focuses on integer performance, Sapphire Rapids comes out on top for tasks that can capitalize on the performance and power advantages afforded by Intel’s unique features.

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