Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon Scalable CPU’s Volume Ramp Rumored For 2023, To Feature DDR5-4800 & PCIe Gen 5.0 Support

Intel's next-generation Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU family is expected to be unveiled by the second half of next year but won't see a volume launch till 2023 as revealed in a leaked slide posted over at Chiphell Forums (via HXL).

Volume Ramp of Intel's Next-Gen Sapphire Rapids Xeon SP CPU Family Not Expected Till 2023, Alleges Rumor

The slide shows Intel's upcoming Xeon CPU families which include the recently launched Cooper Lake-SP along with the upcoming Ice Lake-SP & Sapphire Rapids-SP lineups. Intel was expected to launch its Ice Lake-SP processors this year but they have slipped the 2020 launch schedule & will now be launching in the first half of 2021. However, knowing Intel's 10nm ramp, we cannot say for sure if Ice Lake-SP will be available in full or partial volume.

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Intel's existing roadmap also showed Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU family for 2021 but based on Ice Lake-SP's delay, we should expect the Sapphire Rapids family to be moved back too. Also while we don't exactly know the process node which Intel is going to use to fabricate Sapphire Rapid chips, we do know that it will be something better than the 10nm+ process node which Ice Lake-SP uses. We can expect Intel to use its 10nm SuperFin process node, similar to the Tiger Lake mobility CPU lineup, for its next-generation Xeon lineup. However, Tiger Lake and Sapphire Rapids are entirely different products.

There are rumors that Sapphire Rapids might be using a chiplet design which will allow for better yields than going for a monolithic design that Ice Lake-SP and older Xeon CPUs have utilized. Even still, we can't expect yields to be that great for an enhanced node with brand new architecture. Ice Lake-SP has already been delayed several times and mostly due to 10nm+ yields so expect a similar case with Sapphire Rapids on 10nm SuperFin. Intel will also be moving several product lines to 10nm during 2021-2022 which include Alder Lake for desktops, Tiger Lake for mobility & Ice Lake-SP for servers which would put stress on its 10nm fabs.

Intel also plans on producing server GPUs such as the Ponte Vecchio on its 10nm SuperFin process but most of the chip will be fabricated by external sources. As such, the slide seems to indicate that a volume ramp for Sapphire Rapids Xeon SP CPUs shouldn't be expected till 2023. Now, this does not mean that Sapphire Rapids-SP won't launch at all prior to 2023. The CPUs will be available to select customers and partners such as the Supercomputer contracts that Intel has signed up such as the Aurora (ARNL).

AMD's EPYC Genoa should also be available in full supply by the end of 2022 since Milan launches in Q1 2021 and AMD is going to wait at least a year before it could move on to the 4th Gen EPYC family. So Sapphire Rapids SP should barely make it in time to compete against AMD's next-gen EPYC lineup in full volume.

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Intel Xeon SP Families (Preliminary):

Family BrandingSkylake-SPCascade Lake-SP/APCooper Lake-SPIce Lake-SPSapphire RapidsEmerald RapidsGranite RapidsDiamond Rapids
Process Node14nm+14nm++14nm++10nm+Intel 7Intel 7Intel 3Intel 3?
Platform NameIntel PurleyIntel PurleyIntel Cedar IslandIntel WhitleyIntel Eagle StreamIntel Eagle StreamIntel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
Intel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
Core ArchitectureSkylakeCascade LakeCascade LakeSunny CoveGolden CoveRaptor CoveRedwood Cove?Lion Cove?
IPC Improvement (Vs Prev Gen)10%0%0%20%19%8%?35%?39%?
MCP (Multi-Chip Package) SKUsNoYesNoNoYesYesTBD (Possibly Yes)TBD (Possibly Yes)
SocketLGA 3647LGA 3647LGA 4189LGA 4189LGA 4677LGA 4677TBDTBD
Max Core CountUp To 28Up To 28Up To 28Up To 40Up To 56Up To 64?Up To 120?Up To 144?
Max Thread CountUp To 56Up To 56Up To 56Up To 80Up To 112Up To 128?Up To 240?Up To 288?
Max L3 Cache38.5 MB L338.5 MB L338.5 MB L360 MB L3105 MB L3120 MB L3?240 MB L3?288 MB L3?
Vector EnginesAVX-512/FMA2AVX-512/FMA2AVX-512/FMA2AVX-512/FMA2AVX-512/FMA2AVX-512/FMA2AVX-1024/FMA3?AVX-1024/FMA3?
Memory SupportDDR4-2666 6-ChannelDDR4-2933 6-ChannelUp To 6-Channel DDR4-3200Up To 8-Channel DDR4-3200Up To 8-Channel DDR5-4800Up To 8-Channel DDR5-5600?Up To 12-Channel DDR5-6400?Up To 12-Channel DDR6-7200?
PCIe Gen SupportPCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes)PCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes)PCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes)PCIe 4.0 (64 Lanes)PCIe 5.0 (80 lanes)PCIe 5.0 (80 Lanes)PCIe 6.0 (128 Lanes)?PCIe 6.0 (128 Lanes)?
TDP Range (PL1)140W-205W165W-205W150W-250W105-270WUp To 350WUp To 375W?Up To 400W?Up To 425W?
3D Xpoint Optane DIMMN/AApache PassBarlow PassBarlow PassCrow PassCrow Pass?Donahue Pass?Donahue Pass?
CompetitionAMD EPYC Naples 14nmAMD EPYC Rome 7nmAMD EPYC Rome 7nmAMD EPYC Milan 7nm+AMD EPYC Genoa ~5nmAMD EPYC BergamoAMD EPYC TurinAMD EPYC Venice

Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs & Eagle Stream Platform - What We Know So Far

The 10nm SuperFin based Sapphire Rapids is expected to make use of a next-generation CPU architecture which should either be Willow Cove or Golden Cove based. The Sapphire Rapids lineup will make use of 8 channel DDR5 memory with speeds of up to 4800 MHz and support PCIe Gen 5.0 on the Eagle Stream platform. The Eagle Stream platform will also introduce the LGA 4677 socket which will be replacing the LGA 4189 socket for Intel's upcoming Whitley platform which would house Cooper Lake-SP and Ice Lake-SP processors.

The Sapphire Rapids core counts are expected to reach up to 48 cores (<200W) in single and dual-socket platforms while the 4S/8S platforms are expected to make use of 32 core parts with over 200W TDPs. We can see higher core counts and the higher TDPs could represent higher clocks on the 10nm process node but that's mere speculation at this point in time.

The platform would be competing against AMD's Zen 4 based EPYC Genoa lineup which would also be moving to a newer platform known as SP5. AMD has promised new memory along with new capabilities for the Genoa lineup which would include support for DDR5, PCIe 5.0, and more.

We don't know what other features would the new lineup include but Intel is doing the same with 8-channel DDR5 support & a new interconnect such as CXL for the Eagle Stream platform. Intel is also going to utilize its 3rd Gen DC Persistent memory solution known as Crow Pass which will be a major selling point of the Sapphire Rapids and Eagle Stream Xeon platform. Intel plans to tackle AMD EPYC in two key departments with Sapphire Rapids, one being increased per core output (performance) and decreased TCO$ per core.

Currently, AMD's EPYC CPUs demolish Intel in terms of performance per watt, a number of cores/threads, feature set, and total cost of operation with major players in the server segment switching their cloud datacenters to AMD's EPYC CPUs. It remains to be seen if Intel can make a complete or even a partial recovery of its Xeon segment with Sapphire Rapids. For now, Intel is focusing on a launch for its Sapphire Rapids Xeon Scalable family in 2021.

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