Intel and AMD have a major war in the server market, where the company founded by Gordon Moore had a virtual monopoly until AMD started to take an interest in this market with its EPYC processors and won big contracts. With Sapphire Rapids, Intel wants its Intel Xeons to regain their splendor.
Sapphire Rapids with 80 cores
As you can see in the picture, this server processor is made up of 4 different tiles, that’s what Intel calls its chips. The organization of this processor is different from that of AMD where we have a central chiplet with all the Northbridge, the so-called IOD, but at Intel the 4 tiles are symmetrical in their composition.
Being a processor for servers, as you can see, it is much larger in size than conventional for PCs apart from the fact that will not use the Lake Alder LGA1700 outlet, with which it shares the same type of nucleus, Golden cove, but with a greater number of cores and with the possibility of joining up to 4 tiles on the same chip thanks to Intel’s EMIB technology.
Sapphire Rapids might have a configuration up to 80 cores, in which each tile or chiplet would have a configuration of 20 cores. Intel would therefore have chosen to increase the number of total cores per processor, but not per chip, as this is a lower figure than the 28 Intel Xeon processors based on SkyLake and the 40 of the IceLake-SP. Rumors also speak of 72 cores and 18 cores per tile, so we will have to wait for confirmation from Intel.
The great advantage of chips, useful for Intel, is that they allow a very large chip to be built through smaller ones, thus avoiding the problem of the rate of problems per zone, which increases with the size of the processor.
Intel’s goal is to strike first
Sapphire Rapids is not an answer to EPYC Milan based on Zen 3, it is rather a response to zen 4, because Intel will provide support for DDR5 memory on all its processors with Golden Cove cores. So Sapphire Rapids is Intel is gaining momentum to have the most powerful processors as an early response to Zen 4.
The latest rumors about Alder Lake and Sapphire Rapids have made AMD very nervous, which would have completely canceled the launch of their Zen 3+ processors by the end of this 2021 to focus all their efforts on Zen 4. The architecture which we remember is dated 2022 under TSMC’s 5nm node. While these Sapphire Rapids use Intel’s own 10nm SuperFin node.
One of the markets in which Intel intends to take an advantage is that of processors for artificial intelligence. Thanks to the inclusion of Intel AMX units, AMD is currently the big absentee from AI and Intel intends to take advantage of this Achilles heel of Lisa Su’s company to gain market share.