Intel Ice Lake Xeon New Features
Let us get into the new features of the new CPUs. First and foremost, Intel has shaken the 28 core era from 2017 to 2021 and now has up to 40 cores per processor. The new 10nm parts offer higher IPC and new features as well.
Intel is launching these chips as the cornerstone of a new portfolio of PCIe Gen4 devices. Intel has NAND SSDs, the Optane P5800X, Optane PMem 200, new 100GbE and 200GbE Columbiaville NICs. These are enabled by the move to 64 PCIe Gen4 lanes per socket along with the move to 8-channels of DDR4-3200 memory (in Xeon Gold 6300 and Platinum 8300 SKUs.)
If there is one slide to open in a larger browser window, it is this one. This has the highlights of the new chips.
As a summary for those who do not want to blow the above image up:
- 8-40 10nm Ice Lake cores with larger caches and up to 270W TDP
- 3x UPI with 11.2GT/s interconnect
- 8-channel DDR4-3200 with up to 4TB of DDR4 or 2TB DDR4 + 4TB of PMem 200 (6TB total) per socket. 2DPC (2 DIMMs per channel) is supported
- Intel Total Memory Encryption (TME)
- 64x PCIe Gen4 lanes per CPU, 128x for a dual-socket server
- 2 FMA AVX-512 and related accelerators throughout the family
- Intel SGX with varying enclave sizes for secure computing
- Crypto acceleration
- Lewisburg Refresh PCH (Intel C62xA series) has some new features but loses the 10GbE networking of the original series.
- Intel Platform Firmware Resilience (Intel PFR) provides a hardware root of trust.
Intel did not go into this in the press call, but the Intel PFR feature provides many of the features that are in AMD’s security processor feature on EPYCs. Here, the hardware root of trust is provided by the Intel Altera MAX 10 onboard.
It is important to remember that while AMD’s solution has a high level of integration, Intel is still using off-chip solutions such as the Lewisburg PCH and this Altera FPGA to provide features. When comparing pricing and TDPs, these must be accounted for so a 270W TDP Intel chip is closer to a 280W AMD EPYC part especially once we account for the PCH. Intel is placing multiple chips on the motherboard to achieve a similar feature set to AMD’s more integrated design. These chips have their own costs and require PCB wiring, and also have their own power consumption that goes along with them. Here is the quick gen/ gen comparison from Intel:
With Ice Lake, we get Sunny Cove cores. So there are new instructions and higher IPC. One item that is not in Ice Lake is bfloat16, but it is in the Cooper Lake 3rd Generation Xeon Scalable parts. Interesting in this slide is that there is an optional second Lewisburg Refresh PCH shown, but we have not yet seen a server with two PCHs.
Intel is offering that it has larger generation/ generation performance gains. One must remember here that Ice Lake has 43% more cores than Cascade Lake and Skylake so that puts some of these gains into context.
We have covered Intel Sunny Cove Microarchitecture Details previously, but Intel effectively made bigger cores with bigger caches in this generation which means we get more performance.
Intel gets better memory bandwidth and lower latency. Part of that is from going from two three-channel controllers to four dual-channel controllers with mesh fabric stops. Other aspects are that Intel now has 33% more memory channels and is using faster memory.
One of the big features of this generation is Intel Software Guard Extensions or SGX. SGX has been available for some time, but often on single-socket CPUs which are not ideal for higher-end virtualization. SGX effectively creates secure enclaves so applications can run securely even if other layers in the stack are compromised. There is a big caveat here which is this is a major feature differentiation point for Intel. We will get to that on the SKU portion of this article.
Another big feature is Intel Optane Persistent Memory. Here we get PMem 200 support which are new faster modules. These modules have a new controller but also operate at DDR4-3200 to match memory speeds instead of DDR4-2666 of the previous generation. Also, having eight channels means we get more DIMMs which means we can get more performance when creating stripes across modules in a socket.
If you want to learn more about Optane PMem 200, check out our Glorious Complexity of Intel Optane DIMMs and Micron Exiting 3D XPoint article and the video here:
On the PCH side, we get the Lewisburg Refresh PCHs that end in “A”. Intel has fewer SKU options but one can get these with accelerators built-in. A big omission here is that these SKUs no longer have 10GbE MACs as we saw with the pre-refresh versions.
A feature Intel is touting highly is its new instructions and accelerators. Here are the new instructions:
Here is a lscpu output from a platinum 8380:
Intel also discusses its new accelerators often in its presentation materials.
We are just going to acknowledge it has accelerators, and if one has software that uses a specific acceleration pipeline, a workload will be accelerated.
Of course, with Intel, there is what is being launched, but there are caveats. Some of these features work differently depending on the SKU that is being offered. Next, we are going to take a look at those SKUs.