With the new Xeon Ice Lake-SP, Intel intends to respond to the increased presence in the server processor market that Intel has recently had with its AMD EPYC based on Zen 2 and Zen 3. Intel’s bet? Take a lake of ice and upgrade it in terms of the number of carrots to create the new lake of ice-SP.
Sunny Cove for Intel Xeon Ice Lake-SP
The first part we need to look at in a new processor today is cores, since the name is IceLake-SP, it’s no secret that it uses cores from Sunny Cove. Which are the same as the Rocket Lake-S but at 10nm and not at 14nm. It should be clarified that the Xeon IceLake-SP does not use Intel’s 10nm SuperFin node, but the standard version of it.
Using Sunny Cove as the processor core is an improvement over the second generation Intel Xeon, as the CPI increase is 20% with the new core. As in the notebook and desktop models, Intel has opted for an increase in performance by launching a new core which increases the IPC and with it the general performance of the system.
The new processor supports configurations up to 40 cores, which may seem weak if we compare it to the 64 cores of the AMD EPYC Milan and EPYC Rome, but we can’t forget that we are faced with a monolithic chip instead. of a chip-based chip, so the figure of 40 cores is not lower if we take into account that we are talking about a single chip and not several.
Memory and cache performance on Ice Lake-SP
Intel has decided to take full advantage of the performance of its data and instruction capture system, that is, the cache and memory access system, which has been completely renewed and achieves much higher performance. in this regard than its rivals AMD EPYC. Remember that data access latency is crucial to increase program performance. This is one of the strengths of Intel’s designs over its maximum rival and, as the Xeon Icelandake-SP shows, that tradition continues.
Regarding the general specifications of the new memory and I / O controllers, Intel has equipped the Xeon IceLake-SP with a memory controller that supports up to 8 channels of DDR-3200 memory, let’s not forget that these types of configurations are common in servers and in this case gives the capacity to support up to 6TB of RAM per system. Regarding I / O capabilities for the first time, Intel supports PCI Express 4.0 in its servers with up to 64 PCIe 4.0 lanes from the processor itself and 3 UPO to 11 links, 2 GT / s.
In the new Xeon IceLake-SP, it is possible to use two processors on the same board, communicating with each other using the three UPI interfaces to communicate with the two processors. Since each core reaches 40 cores, a configuration with two Xeon Ice Lake-SP processors can reach up to 80 cores in total.
However, these new Intel Xeons are not only designed to work in pairs and there are models with the possibility of being placed on motherboards with 4 and up to 8 sockets, using UPI interfaces for interconnection. And is the Ultra Patch Interconnect Intel’s counterpart to the AMD EPYC Infinity Fabric interfaces.
AVX-512 and Intel Ice Lake-SP
Intel opts again for its AVX-512 instructions, which at the moment are exclusive to its processors, to which they have added new instructions to speed up algorithms for data cryptography, compression and decompression tasks and already known extensions for artificial intelligence. This speeds up some algorithms commonly used for these tasks through the use of these new AVX-512 instructions.
One type of AVX-512 instruction that Intel has added to the Sunny Cove of these Xeon IceLake-SPs is called SGX or Software Guard Extensions. This allows you to define private regions in memory, which are encrypted and cannot be read by any other process outside of that region, including those with the highest access privileges.
Most of the AVX-512 instructions for Intel Xeon IceLake-SP are derived from those already included in the Sunny Cove of the Ice Lake, but others which are more ideal for the server market and were added during the design of this new processor. .
Large number of configurations
The server market has several form factors depending on the utility of each one and there are configurations of all kinds where the most basic processor is the 4309Y with only 8 cores and the most powerful the 8380 with the full configuration at 40 hearts. The number of models is immense and one can find models of 8, 10, 12, 16, 18, 20, 24, 28, 32, 36 and 4th cores throughout the range, all divided into different configurations depending on the type of server. .
In total, Intel has created ten different lines, ranging from single-socket configurations to others supporting four or more sockets. All this requires configurations optimized in terms of safety, durability or greater or lesser capacity when it comes to scaling its power under heavier workloads.