back to article Intel scoops out five flavours of Ice Lake Xeons for workstations

Intel's ten-nanometre Ice Lake architecture has landed in Xeon processors for workstations. The W-3300 processors top out at 38 cores and 76 threads, with base clock speeds of 3.5GHz. Turbo mode can hit 4.0GHz in a single core in three of the five new CPUS Intel is offering. Other models in the range can sustain 3.7GHz Turbo …

  1. Boothy

    These don't seem to compete with exiting AMD!

    Unless I'm missing something, these new chips, don't even seem to compete against the current Zen 2 Threadrippers that came out in 2020!

    They seem to be slower clocked, with fewer cores for the top end part (38 vs 64), and more expensive. So basically more money for what will most likely be a worse performing part.

    It might be possible that some single threaded applications could be faster on the Intel, as Zen 2 does have some weaknesses in that area, but how many people buy a workstation system if doing lots of single threaded tasks? You'd be better of with a fast desktop CPU in that use case, at least for some tasks.

    Plus the Zen 3 Threadrippers are due out later this year (rumours for November), the expectation is same core counts as now, ranging from 12 through to 64, but with the improved Zen 3 architecture, which has better IPC than Zen 2, and improvements in things like the unified cache, which helped resolved the single core performance issues. This should give a nice boost to performance compared to the Zen 2 parts. It's also expected the new Threadrippers will use the same socket as now, so they'll be a drop in replacement for the current Zen 2 CPUs.

    I'm sure there is probably a use case somewhere for these Intel parts, but I can't see it myself atm?

    1. Smirnov

      Re: I'm sure there is probably a use case somewhere for these Intel parts

      "I'm sure there is probably a use case somewhere for these Intel parts, but I can't see it myself atm?"

      There is. Apple's 2022 Mac Pro.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: These don't seem to compete with exiting AMD!

      "Unless I'm missing something, these new chips, don't even seem to compete against the current Zen 2 Threadrippers that came out in 2020!"

      Good morning, Mr Van Winkle! I trust you've had a pleasant slumber. When we last saw you in 2011, Intel were the x86 leader and it looked like AMD were headed for bankruptcy. I mean, Bulldozer, yikes. What were they thinking?!

      About that. A few years later, things... changed. Rather dramatically, in fact. Intel haven't made a competitive processor since 2016 when AMD introduced Naples. They couldn't get their 10nm process to work, so they cancelled or delayed everything for years but that didn't help either. They seem to have finally got that sorted, but in the meantime AMD and everyone else at the forefront have moved on to 7nm, which Intel have spent the last 4 years trying, without success, to get working also. Now 5nm (and even 3nm) is almost ready elsewhere and they're still planning yet another future generation of 10nm parts. Yeah, it's that bad.

      As you've surmised, Intel's newest processors are no longer competitive with AMD's *previous* generation. It's like that across pretty much all product families, though I suppose you can make a case that AMD's G-series AM4 parts (integrated graphics) are nothing special. Intel are losing on both power and performance at any price point, and by every metric: core count, IPC, cache sizes, TDP, and pretty much any delivered performance metric you can name. And that's for AMD's parts that Intel have a comparable offering; AMD have entire segments and families for which Intel have literally nothing at all to offer. The trade rags have even taking to comparing Intel's latest parts with AMD's previous generations, and often AMD parts that are in a lower marketing segment too, just so they have something to write about when "reviewing" the shiny new blue silicon. Lots of them rely on Intel for free review samples, ad buys, and early access to embargoed information, so they kind of have to. But the whole situation is rather embarrassing for Intel, so much so that they have been shedding talent, too (though probably their miserable stack-racking centric corporate culture isn't helping any).

      Bob Swan was sent packing, but far too late to help; once you're more than a full generation behind there's really no way to recover. An object lesson for B-schools, I guess, though it's not like you couldn't already fill a shelf with case studies on putting accountants in charge of businesses. As you might expect for this stage of their drain-circling, they've turned to a lifer, the prodigal son who made the rounds and came home, Mr Gelsinger. His approach has been the only one open to him: lie. You'll find a recent article on El Reg about their latest marketing gimmick, using numbers without units in place of everyone else's process node sizing, just like Cyrix did many years ago when they couldn't compete with Intel on clock rates. Obviously they're not even talking about performance, at all. He hopes we're all that stupid.

      In the meantime, Intel are doing what they've always done to stay in business: paying off OEMs to build around their inferior products. The market's not blind, though; just like Bulldozer, most of Intel's processors now have negative net value, so it's a real challenge to sell them. But of course, newspapers have to be filled, so hacks still rave about the "new hotness", even when it can't compete with products that have been on the market for several years already. If you care about PCIe 4 and lots of memory support in a workstation form factor, you already have either a Threadripper or the superior but non-overclockable Threadripper Pro next to your desk, and have for a long time. We're all embarrassed for the hacks who have to write about these "amazing new" processors, but everyone needs a living.

      And now you're caught up!

      1. Boothy

        Re: These don't seem to compete with exiting AMD!

        Chuckle, have one of these : -->

    3. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: These don't seem to compete with exiting AMD!

      Get a Mac Mini or a Ryzen 5900X if you want single thread performance.

  2. Sgt_Oddball

    4TB of ram?

    The mind truly boggles over how many chrome windows could be open for remote users and still have ram left with that sort of ram.

    On the flipside, do we have databases that could utilise that much ram?

    But yes, the point about Thread ripper and Epyc above still count.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge

      Re: 4TB of ram?

      I use a lot of Virtual Machines at the same time - SQL, BI stuff all uses loads of memory.

      Upgraded last month to an AMD Ryzen 9 - 12 Cores, 24 Cores with 64 GB RAM (upgradable to 128GB).

      I'm not close to using all those cores with 5 VMs running. RAM at about 50%.

      I looked at the closest Intel did - 50% more expensive.

      I can see the use case for video editing though - that assumes you can get hold of a gfx card though.

    2. Muppet Boss

      Re: 4TB of ram?

      >On the flipside, do we have databases that could utilise that much ram?

      Sure, legacy applications that are difficult to scale horizontally, large OLTP, DWH installs greatly benefit from that much RAM. Think Oracle, SAP in large corporates that used to run on AIX/IBM P series and now transition to Intel because they want more on the cheap. Or tasks with large computational models like weather forecast where poor agencies that cannot afford proper supercomputers have to use P series clusters, maybe they can improvise with Intel as well.

      One large environment I worked in recently still had an E880 with 192 cores and 4TB of RAM (upgradeable to 32TB I should add) as the main OLTP platform and they did not complain about too much RAM available. But the P series is like space tech from the Shuttle age, properly designed and build, hot-swappable everything, CPU, RAM, hardware virtualization from the age even VMware was not born yet, and costs as much as the Shuttle.

      So, it makes financial sense for some to downgrade to the latest Intel stuff.

      1. Muppet Boss

        Re: 4TB of ram?

        ...But positioning these new CPUs as a workstation CPU? Intel offers Cinema 4D as the use case (3D rendering application) but could it be that they just failed to achieve low enough power consumption and TDP for high-density server builds to market as such?

        These new CPUs seem to be really power hungry, especially considering dual-socket systems.

        1. Muppet Boss

          Re: 4TB of ram?

          I double checked the specs, all 5 are single-socket, hence workstation.

      2. Korev Silver badge

        Re: 4TB of ram?

        > One large environment I worked in recently still had an E880 with 192 cores and 4TB of RAM (upgradeable to 32TB I should add) as the main OLTP platform

        But can it run Crysis?

    3. Daniel von Asmuth

      Re: 4TB of ram?

      I've been wondering why these chippies come with only 4 Tea. Perhaps if you build a 4-socket box, you can have 16 Tea.

      At 270 Watt TDP, these hot chippies would be good for a Dell gaming PC.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    That's a lot of TDP!

    Things have moved on from the older days of them refusing to go beyond 150W, although it looks like AMD are pretty much the same

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Aww it's so cute, they think they're catching up! Bring on the 96 and 128 core Epyc Genoas!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Intel chips burn so hot to compete

    That Dell recently had to stop selling some of their top of the range gaming PCs in some US States as they broke the law for power consumption.

    Maybe their workstations have similar issues which stops OEMs using them.

    1. Boothy

      Re: Intel chips burn so hot to compete

      The banned Dell PCs were AMD, not Intel, at least not the examples I'd seen (Alienware Ryzen R10 Gaming Desktop). But it was idle power issues anyway, nothing to do with running hot.

      The new [1] laws in some states in the US were about idle power, i.e. when the system was in standby, or sleep/low power modes (such as when going to sleep automatically). There are no restrictions related to running power, i.e. when actually in use.

      Also the 'banned' PCs were not top of the range, they were mid rage machines, decent CPU (Ryzen 5800 (none X)), but lower end GFX (3060 Ti), which was part of the issue.

      Basically there is a horribly complex set of rules, tables of components etc, that add points to a score for each system. The more SATA sockets, higher end components, M2 slots, memory slots, installed drives etc that are fitted, and the more high end the parts are, such as CPU and the GFX card, the more points the system gets, more points means more idle power is allowed for that system.

      The issue with that specific Dell systems was the point score wasn't high enough to meet the threshold. Same CPU and GFX with a more expansive motherboard would likely pass the threshold, and be allowed.

      As an example, the same R10 system, with the same Ryzen 5800 CPU, but fitted with a high end RX 6800 XT and an extra 2.5" SSD, but everything else the same, is allowed to be shipped to California etc. So a higher power drain system when running passes the threshold, as it's components increase the allowed threshold.

      Backwards really, but thems the rules it seems!

      1 : The laws aren't really new, they were announced years ago, so companies like Dell have had a long time to be ready.

      1. Old Used Programmer

        Re: Intel chips burn so hot to compete

        In addition to all that, there are a couple of things you can do to a system to make it exempt from the rules (at least in California). One is to have a PSU rated over 600W. The other is to have a GPU with HMB (not sure what the actual threshhold is).

  7. aldolo

    "faster then the previous model"

    do they still relying on this promise? my work time isn't any shorter then 20 years ago.

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Re: "faster then the previous model"

      It just means that you chuck more data at the workstation or you can do what once took a workstation can now be done on a normal desktop PC. For example visualising drug molecules used to be done on staggeringly expensive SGI workstations by specialists and now our bench chemists can spin molecules to their hearts' content on a normal laptop.

  8. Fenton

    Supply and Demand

    The problem is AMD are pretty much selling everything they've got, so Intel is the only alternative, also don't look at list prices, there will be massive discount to workstation builders and intel will push heavily on price per core.

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