Intel's latest Xeon CPUs promise lightning-fast performance for workstations
Intel unveiled 15 new Xeon W 2400 and 3400 workstation CPUs that support up to 4 terabytes of DDR5 memory, 56 cores and 112 PCIe 5 lanes. The workstation processors, code-named Sapphire Rapids, range from the 56-core Xeon w-3495X processor for USD $5,889 to the 8-core Xeon w3-2423 for USD $359.
Not all of the processors support overclocking, but eight of them do; this marks the return to HEDT-class desktop processors according to Tom's Hardware. Intel's last lower-cost overclockable server processors was the Core i9-10980XE, which the company released in 2019.
AMD's Threadripper Pro is the non-plus ultra currently when it comes to workstation processors. It offers up to 64-cores, with the Threadripper Pro 5995WX. Intel is upping the game in regards to memory and PCIe support. While AMD's current offerings support PCIe 4.0 and DDR4 only, Intel's latest Xeon workstation processors support PCIe 5.0 and DDR5.
The new Xeon W processors come in W9, W7, W5 and W3 variants similar to the Core processors. They have the same cores as the Sapphire Rapids server CPUs and they share many features and capabilities.
There are differences, including lack of support for integrated HBM stack memory.
The cores are based on the Golden Cove microarchitecture. Intel Xeon W-3400 processors use the multi-chiplet XCC Sapphire Rapids design, the Xeon W-2400 processors a single MCC die. All new Xeon-W processors have large performance cores, unlike Intel's hybrid processors for mainstream desktop PCs, which have smaller e-cores.
All cores of the new processor line-up support hyperthreading for better utilization of the computing units. Thy are supported by up to 105 megabyte Level 3 cache.
Intel claims that the new Xeon W processors offer better performance when compared to the previous generation of Xeon W processors. According to Intel, the new chips are up to 28% faster in single-threaded and up to 120% faster in multi-threaded operations. Intel did not provide benchmark comparisons to AMD's Threadripper processor, and independent tests are not available yet.
As far as specs are concerned, here are the highlights:
|Intel Xeon W 2400||Intel Xeon W 3400|
|Memory||Up to 2TB of DDR5 RAM, 4 channels of DDR5 RDIMM||Up to 4TB of DDR5 RAM, 8 channels of DDR5 RDIMM|
|CPU Cores||Up to 24 cores with 48 threads||Uo to 56 cores with 112 threads|
|Connectivity||Up to 4 GPUs and 8 storage devices, 64 PCI Express 5.0 lanes||Up to 7 GPUs and 28 storage devices, 112 PCI Express 5.0 lanes|
|Ports||Up to 8 SATA 3.0 ports|
Up to 16L PCI Express 4.0
|Up to 8 SATA 3.0 ports
Up to 16L PCI Express 4.0
|USB||Up to 5 USB 3.2 ports||Up to 5 USB 3.2 ports|
|LAN / WLAN||Wi-Fi 6E, wired LAN up to 2.5 Gbps||Wi-Fi 6E, wired LAN up to 2.5 Gbps|
|Extras||Advanced packaging to speed up data transfers between cores|
Intel Xeon W-2400 and Intel Xeon W-3400 workstation processors are available for pre-order. Intel expects that system availability will being in March 2023.
All models with X in the model name are unlocked, which means that they may be overclocked without imposed restrictions. The cheapest model that is unlocked and can be bought at retail is the 12-core Xeon w5-2445, which is available for $1039. It goes up to $3739 for the 36-core Xeon w9-3475X. The price puts it out of range of most uses in the enthusiasts and home markets.
AMD is expected to announce an update to its server architecture in the near future that brings feature parity with Intel's new platform. Currently limited to DDR4 memory and PCIe 4.0, the new platform will support DDR5 memory and PCIe 5.0.
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