Something that many of our readers may not recall is that the upcoming Intel Xeon Sapphire Rapids CPUs will have a feature we have not seen from Intel since the 2020-2021 Cooper Lake 3rd Generation Scalable CPUs, and that is Intel will have new 4 and 8 socket offerings with Sapphire Rapids. Intel confirmed this some time ago, but it re-confirmed it in the recent Intel Innovation 2022 materials.
Intel Xeon Sapphire Rapids to Scale to 4 and 8 Sockets
We have an early look at the platform overview for the new 4th Generation Intel Xeon Processors codenamed “Sapphire Rapids.” One should not confuse 4th Gen Xeon with Xeon E5 V4 or Xeon E7 V4, because it looks like “Scalable” is being dropped from the next-generation branding. One can see in the second column at the very top that there is “1 to 8 socket support”.
This is current as of the end of September 2022 for the Sapphire Rapids platform. We see features like accelerators that we will discuss more soon, but also why we have been working on pieces like Intel QuickAssist in Ice Lake Servers What You Need to Know. We also see things like CXL support, 8-channel DDR5, UPI, and PCIe Gen5 support.
For STH readers, the support for 4 and 8-socket Sapphire Rapids servers will make a lot of sense. In our 2020 piece: The 2021 Intel Ice Pickle, How 2021 Will be Crunch Time we showed Intel’s planned 2P and 4P+ platforms and when they launched or were expected to launch.
We will note that the Sapphire Rapids timeframe has shifted as it was not launched in late 2021.
Here is the video for that one:
There is a class of systems that has 4-8 sockets and has been stuck for some time. Intel had 4-8 socket support with Skylake and Cascade Lake (1st and 2nd-gen Xeon Scalable.)
With the 3rd Generation Intel Xeon Scalable, there was both Cooper Lake and Ice Lake. Most of Intel’s 3rd Generation comparisons will be to Ice Lake, but Cooper Lake is technically branded as 3rd Gen as well. In the 4 and 8 socket space, Intel can show massive performance gains with >2x the cores per socket plus two generations of IPC improvements, six-channel DDR4 to eight-channel DDR5 per socket, new instructions, and new accelerators.
It is unlikely that Intel is going to be competing on a cores per-socket basis with AMD in this generation. At the same time, we actually expect Intel to have the highest core count servers of the next generation when we look to 4-8 sockets. AMD Genoa has publicly stated 96 cores per CPU, and Bergamo at 128. Intel has stated it plans 60 core SKUs for 4x 60 = 240 cores or 8x 60 = 480 cores per server.
With that said, we see trends to single or dual-socket servers instead of eight-socket servers. AMD may have the most cores in single and dual-socket servers. Intel technically may end up with the highest core count servers of this generation and the most aggregate memory bandwidth and PCIe connectivity just by using more CPUs. It also has a segment of customers that is about to see an enormous gen/gen improvement over Cooper Lake.