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Intel's Upcoming Sapphire Rapids Server Processors to Feature up to 56 Cores with HBM Memory

Intel has just launched its Ice Lake-SP lineup of Xeon Scalable processors, featuring the new Sunny Cove CPU core design. Built on the 10 nm node, these processors represent Intel's first 10 nm shipping product designed for enterprise. However, there is another 10 nm product going to be released for enterprise users. Intel is already preparing the Sapphire Rapids generation of Xeon processors and today we get to see more details about it. Thanks to the anonymous tip that VideoCardz received, we have a bit more details like core count, memory configurations, and connectivity options. And Sapphire Rapids is shaping up to be a very competitive platform. Do note that the slide is a bit older, however, it contains useful information.

The lineup will top at 56 cores with 112 threads, where this processor will carry a TDP of 350 Watts, notably higher than its predecessors. Perhaps one of the most interesting notes from the slide is the department of memory. The new platform will make a debut of DDR5 standard and bring higher capacities with higher speeds. Along with the new protocol, the chiplet design of Sapphire Rapids will bring HBM2E memory to CPUs, with up to 64 GBs of it per socket/processor. The PCIe 5.0 standard will also be present with 80 lanes, accompanying four Intel UPI 2.0 links. Intel is also supposed to extend the x86_64 configuration here with AMX/TMUL extensions for better INT8 and BFloat16 processing.

Intel 12th Generation Alder Lake Platform Reportedly Brings 20% Single-Threaded Performance Uplift

Intel only just announced their 11th generation Rocket Lake-S desktop processors last week but we are already receiving information about the next generation Alder Lake-S platform which will finally make the jump to 10 nm. Intel slides for the upcoming family of processors have been leaked and they reveal some interesting information including a claimed 20% single-threaded performance increases from the new Golden Cove core design and 10 nm SuperFin node. The processors will feature Intel Hybrid Technology with a mix of small low-performance cores and large high-performance cores with a maximum of eight each for sixteen total cores. The processors will also include the latest connectivity with both PCIe 4.0 and PCIe 5.0 support along with DDR4 and DDR5 4800 MHz compatibility.

Intel will also be launching a new socket type called LGA1700 with a new package size which will render existing cooling solutions for LGA115X and LGA1200 sockets incompatible. The processors will also come with the launch of a new 600 Series chipset with PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 support along with the usual complement of USB, SATA, and networking. The entry-level 600-series motherboards will only support DDR4 memory at up to 3200 MHz while high-end Z690 motherboards will include DDR5 support. Intel has confirmed that they intend to launch Alder Lake later this year but it is yet to be known if they are referring to the desktop or mobile series.

Intel Rocket Lake-S Lands on March 15th, Alder Lake-S Uses Enhanced 10 nm SuperFin Process

In the latest round of rumors, we have today received some really interesting news regarding Intel's upcoming lineup of desktop processors. Thanks to HKEPC media, we have information about the launch date of Intel's Rocket Lake-S processor lineup and Alder Lake-S details. Starting with Rocket Lake, Intel did not unveil the exact availability date on these processors. However, thanks to HKEPC, we have information that Rocket Lake is landing in our hands on March 15th. With 500 series chipsets already launched, consumers are now waiting for the processors to arrive as well, so they can pair their new PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs with the latest processor generation.

When it comes to the next generation Alder Lake-S design, Intel is reported to use its enhanced 10 nm SuperFin process for the manufacturing of these processors. This would mean that the node is more efficient than the regular 10 nm SuperFin present on Tiger Lake processors, and some improvements like better frequencies are expected. Alder Lake is expected to make use of big.LITTLE core configuration, with small cores being Gracemont designs, and the big cores being Golden Cove designs. The magic of Golden Cove is expected to result in 20% IPC improvement over Willow Cove, which exists today in Tiger Lake designs. Paired with PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 technology, Alder Lake is looking like a compelling upgrade that is arriving in December of this year. Pictured below is the LGA1700 engineering sample of Alder Lake-S processor.

Silicon Motion: PCIe 5.0 SSD Controller to Arrive Next Year

With the debut of PCIe 4.0 standard, SSD manufacturers have started launching a new generation of storage devices, with unseen speeds before. Today's PCIe 4.0 SSDs can reach up to 8.0 GB/s reads and writes, all thanks to the bandwidth-heavy PCIe protocol. However, enterprise workloads are always requiring more and more bandwidth to satisfy their needs. Data is being moved in immense quantities and faster hardware is always welcome. The previous PCIe 4.0 standard is about to kneel to its successor - PCIe 5.0 protocol. Having double the amount of bandwidth, the new standard is set to bring unseen speeds.

The PCIe 5.0 protocol offers 32 GT/s per lane, making up to 64 GB/s in the full x16 implementation. However, when it comes to SSDs, as they use x4 lanes, it will increase the maximum speed to 16 GB/s, doubling the previous bandwidth. Silicon Motion, the maker of NAND flash controllers, has announced that the company is going to debut a PCIe 5.0 controller next year. "We are excited about enterprise-grade PCIe Gen5 controller, which we will have taped out early next year and sample in the second half of 2022", said Wallace Kuo, chief executive of Silicon Motion, during a conference call. Launching just in time to pair with Intel's Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors that support the PCIe 5.0 protocol, Silicon Motion is probably expecting to grab its market share there.

Microchip Announces World's First PCI Express 5.0 Switches

Applications such as data analytics, autonomous-driving and medical diagnostics are driving extraordinary demands for machine learning and hyperscale compute infrastructure. To meet these demands, Microchip Technology Inc. today announced the world's first PCI Express (PCIe) 5.0 switch solutions—the Switchtec PFX PCIe 5.0 family—doubling the interconnect performance for dense compute, high speed networking and NVM Express (NVMe ) storage. Together with the XpressConnect retimers, Microchip is the industry's only supplier of both PCIe Gen 5 switches and PCIe Gen 5 retimer products, delivering a complete portfolio of PCIe Gen 5 infrastructure solutions with proven interoperability.

"Accelerators, graphic processing units (GPUs), central processing units (CPUs) and high-speed network adapters continue to drive the need for higher performance PCIe infrastructure. Microchip's introduction of the world's first PCIe 5.0 switch doubles the PCIe Gen 4 interconnect link rates to 32 GT/s to support the most demanding next-generation machine learning platforms," said Andrew Dieckmann, associate vice president of marketing and applications engineering for Microchip's data center solutions business unit. "Coupled with our XpressConnect family of PCIe 5.0 and Compute Express Link (CXL ) 1.1/2.0 retimers, Microchip offers the industry's broadest portfolio of PCIe Gen 5 infrastructure solutions with the lowest latency and end-to-end interoperability."

Intel Confirms HBM is Supported on Sapphire Rapids Xeons

Intel has just released its "Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference" manual, which serves the purpose of providing the developers' information about Intel's upcoming hardware additions which developers can utilize later on. Today, thanks to the @InstLatX64 on Twitter we have information that Intel is bringing on-package High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) solution to its next-generation Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors. Specifically, there are two instructions mentioned: 0220H - HBM command/address parity error and 0221H - HBM data parity error. Both instructions are there to address data errors in HBM so the CPU operates with correct data.

The addition of HBM is just one of the many new technologies Sapphire Rapids brings. The platform is supposedly going to bring many new technologies like an eight-channel DDR5 memory controller enriched with Intel's Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA). To connect to all of the external accelerators, the platform uses PCIe 5.0 protocol paired with CXL 1.1 standard to enable cache coherency in the system. And as a reminder, this would not be the first time we see a server CPU use HBM. Fujitsu has developed an A64FX processor with 48 cores and HBM memory, and it is powering today's most powerful supercomputer - Fugaku. That is showing how much can a processor get improved by adding a faster memory on-board. We are waiting to see how Intel manages to play it out and what we end up seeing on the market when Sapphire Rapids is delivered.

Alleged Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon Processor Image Leaks, Dual-Die Madness Showcased

Today, thanks to the ServeTheHome forum member "111alan", we have the first pictures of the alleged Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon processor. Pictured is what appears to be a dual-die design similar to Cascade Lake-SP design with 56 cores and 112 threads that uses two dies. The Sapphire Rapids is a 10 nm SuperFin design that allegedly comes even in the dual-die configuration. To host this processor, the motherboard needs an LGA4677 socket with 4677 pins present. The new LGA socket, along with the new 10 nm Sapphire Rapids Xeon processors are set for delivery in 2021 when Intel is expected to launch its new processors and their respective platforms.

The processor pictured is clearly a dual-die design, meaning that Intel used some of its Multi-Chip Package (MCM) technology that uses EMIB to interconnect the silicon using an active interposer. As a reminder, the new 10 nm Sapphire Rapids platform is supposed to bring many new features like a DDR5 memory controller paired with Intel's Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA); a brand new PCIe 5.0 standard protocol with a 32 GT/s data transfer rate, and a CXL 1.1 support for next-generation accelerators. The exact configuration of this processor is unknown, however, it is an engineering sample with a clock frequency of a modest 2.0 GHz.

PCIe 6.0 Specification Reaches Milestone, Remains on Track for a 2021 Release

PCI-SIG has recently confirmed that version 0.7 of the PCIe 6.0 Specification has been officially released to its members. The PCI-SIG organization has already ratified the PCIe 5.0 standard and plans to release the full PCIe 6.0 specification in 2021. PCIe 6.0 will bring the same doubling in data rates seen with previous generations of the standard including a 2x improvement over PCIe 5.0, 4x boost over PCIe 4.0, and an 8x increase in speeds over the common PCIe 3.0 standard.

The organization has been speeding up its timeline for new versions of the PCIe specification with PCIe 3.0 being released in 2010 followed by PCIe 4.0 in 2017, PCIe 5.0 in 2019, and with PCIe 6.0 expected in 2021. The PCIe 6.0 standard is designed to fulfill the needs of future devices in the PC and enterprise markets such as 800 Gb/s Ethernet cards. The earliest we can expect to see PCIe 6.0 devices in the PC market would be 2023 or 2024 depending on requirements.

Intel Alder Lake-S Processor Pictured

Intel has just recently announced its next-generation Rocket Lake-S processor specifications designed to bring improved performance and newer platform technologies like PCIe 4.0. However, we are yet to see the first 10 nm CPU for desktop users. Today, thanks to the sources over at VideoCardz, we have the first look at Intel's next-next-generation processor called Alder Lake. The Alder Lake-S is a platform that brings many of the "firsts" for Intel. It will be the first architecture being built on the company's 10 nm SuperFin architecture. Alongside the new node, the platform will transition to the next-generation of technologies. Rumored are the transitions to PCIe 5.0 and perhaps, most importantly - DDR5.

Another new approach will be Intel's adaptation of Arm's big.LITTLE heterogeneous core structure. The processor will feature a few of the "little" cores for light tasks, and fire up the "big" cores for heavy computing. All of that will require a new socket to house the processor, which is the LGA1700. You can see the new processor below, compared to LGA1200 CPU from the previous generation.

Intel Alder Lake-S CPU Has Been Pictured

Intel has been preparing the launch of its 10 nm processors for desktop users for some time now, and today we are getting the first pictures of the Alder Lake-S CPU backside. Featuring a package with a size of 37.5×45 mm, the Alder Lake CPU uses more of its area for a pin count increase. Going up from 1200 pins in the LGA1200 socket, the new Alder Lake-S CPU uses 1700 CPU pins, which slots in the LGA1700 socket. In the picture below, there is an engineering sample of the Alder Lake-S CPU, which we see for the first time. While there is no much information about the processor, we know that it will use Intel's 10 nm SuperFin design, paired with hybrid core technology. That means that there will be big (Golden Cove) and little (Gracemont) cores in the design. Other features such as PCIe 5.0 and DDR5 should be present as well. The new CPU generation and LGA1700 motherboards are scheduled to arrive in second half of 2021.

Europe Readies its First Prototype of Custom HPC Processor

European Processor Initiative (EPI) is a Europe's project to kickstart a homegrown development of custom processors tailored towards different usage models that the European Union might need. The first task of EPI is to create a custom processor for high-performance computing applications like machine learning, and the chip prototypes are already on their way. The EPI chairman of the board Jean-Marc Denis recently spoke to the Next Platform and confirmed some information regarding the processor design goals and the timeframe of launch.

Supposed to be manufactured on TSMC's 6 nm EUV (TSMC N6 EUV) technology, the EPI processor will tape-out at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, and it is going to be heterogeneous. That means that on its 2.5D die, many different IPs will be present. The processor will use a custom ARM CPU, based on a "Zeus" iteration of Neoverese server core, meant for general-purpose computation tasks like running the OS. When it comes to the special-purpose chips, EPI will incorporate a chip named Titan - a RISC-V based processor that uses vector and tensor processing units to compute AI tasks. The Titan will use every new standard for AI processing, including FP32, FP64, INT8, and bfloat16. The system will use HBM memory allocated to the Titan processor, have DDR5 links for the CPU, and feature PCIe 5.0 for the inner connection.

PCI-SIG Achieves 32 GT/s with New PCI-Express 5.0 Specification

PCI-SIG today announced the release of PCI Express (PCIe ) 5.0 specification, reaching 32 GT/s transfer rates, while maintaining low power and backwards compatibility with previous technology generations. "New data-intensive applications are driving demand for unprecedented levels of performance," said Al Yanes, PCI-SIG Chairman and President. "Completing the PCIe 5.0 specification in 18 months is a major achievement, and it is due to the commitment of our members who worked diligently to evolve PCIe technology to meet the performance needs of the industry. The PCIe architecture will continue to stand as the de facto standard for high performance I/O for the foreseeable future."

"For 27 years, the PCI-SIG has continually delivered new versions of I/O standards that enable designers to accommodate the never-ending increases in bandwidth required for next generation systems, while preserving investments in prior generation interfaces and software," noted Nathan Brookwood, research fellow at Insight 64. "Over that period, peak bandwidth has increased from 133 MB/second (for the first 32-bit parallel version) to 32 GB/second (for the V4.0 by16 serial version), a 240X improvement. Wow! The new PCIe 5.0 standard doubles that again to 64 GB/second. Wow2. We have come to take this increased performance for granted, but in reality, it takes a coordinated effort across many members of the PCI-SIG to execute these transitions so seamlessly."

PCI-SIG: PCIe 4.0 in 2017, PCIe 5.0 in 2019

After years of continued innovation in PCIe's bandwidth, we've hit somewhat of a snag in recent times; after all, the PCIe 3.0 specification has been doing the rounds on our motherboards ever since 2010. PCI-SIG, the 750-member strong organization that's in charge of designing the specifications for the PCIe bus, attribute part of this delay to industry stagnation: PCIe 3.0 has simply been more than enough, bandwidth-wise, for many generations of hardware now. Only recently, with innovations in storage mediums and innovative memory solutions, such as NVMe SSDs and Intel's Optane, are we starting to hit the ceiling on what PCIe 3.0 offers. Add to that the increased workload and bandwidth requirements of the AI field, and the industry now seems to be eager for an upgrade, with some IP vendors even having put out PCIe 4.0-supporting controllers and PHYs into their next-generation products already - although at the incomplete 0.9 revision.
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