Intel launches its new precious metal Xeon platform

Enlarge / That weird tab at the bottom is the Omni-Path Fabric interconnect. (credit: Intel)

NEW YORK—At a trendy entrepreneurial workspace in Brooklyn, Intel formally launched a new range of Xeon processors powered by its new Skylake-SP core. The new processors offer more cores and more performance than their predecessors, with a new mesh-based design to enable greater scaling within their multicore processors.

The new chips also bring with them a new set of precious metal-based branding, with four metals—Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum—used to denote processor capabilities. Unlike AMD’s new Epyc platform, Intel is continuing to segment its features.

Xeon SP (“scalable platform”) chips will have up to 28 cores and 56 threads. This high core count prompted Intel to move away from the ring-based design used in prior processors. The ring design arranged cores in one or two loops with core-to-core communication having to go around the ring, potentially requiring data to travel over a dozen or more hops to move between cores. With the new mesh design, the individual cores (along with memory controllers and I/O interfaces) are arranged in a 2D grid (4×4, 4×6, or 6×6, depending on the overall core count), allowing data to move between cores in many fewer hops. This design should help keep the communication latency between the cores low, and it’s a key advantage over AMD’s Infinity Fabric-based design, which can suffer very high latencies in a number of situations.

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