Cascade Lake-AP Xeon CPUs embrace the multi-chip module

Intel-Xeon-1

Intel's server roadmap and product families have been pretty calm in recent years.

As rumored, Cascade Lake-AP will employ a multichip package (MCP) design, joining two 24-core dies in a package with Ultra Path Interconnect (UPI) links. We don't have a launch date for Cascade Lake other than 1H, so it's a good bet that whatever Intel fields will go head-to-head with AMD's Epyc 2 silicon, codenamed Rome, and built on 7nm at TSMC. Intel is promising better performance with the new processors and has labelled them "Cascade Lake Advanced Performance".

AMD has touted superior floating-point throughput from its Epyc platforms in the past for two-socket systems, but those comparisons were made against Broadwell CPUs with two AVX2 execution units per core rather than the twin AVX-512 engines of Skylake Server and the derivative Cascade Lake cores. From these notes it is worth highlighting that the AMD chip tested, an EPYC 7601, is a 32C/64T part and that Intel tested it, and systems based upon dual-socket EPYC processors, with SMT off. 64 active cores is nothing to sniff at, to be sure, but when a platform is capable of throwing 128 threads at a problem and one artificially slices that number in half, eyebrows are going to go up. The flagship Xeon E-2186G ($450) is a hexa-core processor with HyperThreading enabled (12 threads), 12MB SmartCache, Intel UHD Graphics 630, a base clock of 3.8GHz and a Turbo Boost 2.0 clock of 4.7GHz. Extensions focused on artificial and machine intelligence inference acceleration, meanwhile, promise a 17-fold increase in images-per-second compared to the Xeon Scalable 8180.

Intel says that Cascade Lake processors will be arranged in multi-chip packages with CPUs that offer up to 48 cores per socket.

Intel has announced the immediate availability of its Xeon E-2100 processors, which is targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses. All processors support dual-channel DDR4-2666 memory and feature a TDP ranging from 71 watts up to 95 watts for the flagship.

While Intel focuses on setting expectations around performance leadership, we will have to wait for future disclosures over the coming months to find out about the power profile of Cascade Lake-AP, a key factor in TCO equations.

More details on the entire Cascade Lake family, including Cascade Lake AP, are set to come at next week's Supercomputing conference, so stay tuned for more information as it becomes available! VNNI allows Cascade Lake processors to perform INT8 and INT16 operations that are important to AI inferencing operations.

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