Intel Xeon Max System Hands-on
The developer platform came in a ~115lb box, which is about twice that of an average 2U server. Part of the reason for this is it is designed not just for CPU Max development, but also GPU Max PCIe cards which were not populated in our system. One of the cool features of the system though was that the chassis was designed to stay in the rack while the portion with the CPU, memory, PCIe cards, motherboard, storage, and so forth could be removed. In higher-volume test environments like the Intel Developer Cloud, this makes servicing these systems much easier than standard 2U servers.
One fun design was the SSD backplane with vertical and horizontal PCBs for connectivity. After reviewing hundreds of servers, this is the first time I can recall seeing a design like this one.
The CPU is not the only Intel “MAX” product found in the system, as there was an Altera FPGA, the MAX 10 onboard as well.
The CPUs themselves are 350W TDP units so we get large heatsinks. Notably, however, is that these are not liquid-cooled CPUs, they are still being air cooled.
Here is another angle of the big heatsinks.
For our HBM2e-only testing, we took out the memory from the system. The default configuration had sixteen 16GB DDR5 ECC RDIMMs in the system, with eight per CPU. All of these DIMMs were removed for the HBM2e only testing.
The CPU socket for the system looks like standard LGA4677 with one notable difference. The 8x DDR5 DIMM slots are a bit further than we are accustomed to seeing from the socket itself.
Perhaps not the best example, but here is a Xeon W-3400 series LGA4677 socket from our Building 3x Intel Xeon W-3400 Workstation and Servers with the ASUS Pro WS W790E SAGE SE where one can clearly see the minimal distance between the socket and the DDR5 DIMM slots on either side.
Our sense is that Intel did this for the development platform in order to fit wider heatsinks than we would normally see.
If a design goal is not having the narrowest CPU and memory area nor fitting sixteen DIMMs per CPU for 2DPC memory configurations, then this is a useful alteration to designs we normally see.
Next, let us get back to the Xeon Max 9480 chips so we can see how these memory slots are connected to the cores.