Despite rapidly increasing market share of AMD Epyc, Intel’s Xeons continue to dominate the worldwide server market. After a long series of delays, Intel is set to unveil its third-generation Xeons on April 6. April the third generation of Xeon Scalable Processors (Xeon-SP), i.e. the Ice-Lake Xeons from the 10 nanometer production. They should finally bring PCI Express 4.0, which has been available at AMD since the second Epyc generation and at IBM for Power9 servers since 2018.
Intel still promised the Ice Lake Xeons for the first quarter of 2021 at CES 2021, now it has taken a bit longer – AMD has arrived with the Epyc 7003 "Milan" already advanced.
Intel plans to unveil the Ice Lake Xeons on 6.4.2021 at 8 a.m. PDT. That corresponds to 16.00 o’clock local time.
Even before that, namely on Tuesday, 23. March, the new Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger will address the public: He will also be streamed, starting at 2 p.m. California time, which is 10 p.m. in Central Europe. Gelsinger will give an outlook on Intel’s technical and economic goals.
AMD more than doubled its market share in server processors last year; more than 12 percent of all x86 server processors are now said to be Epycs. Server manufacturers are bringing more and more systems with Epyc processors to market. Intel responds with discounts, among other things.
For the Ice Lake Xeons, Intel has already made some preliminary announcements, for example about performance and new security features such as SGX improvements, faster AES commands, Total Memory Encryption (TME) and Platform Firmware Resilience (PFR).
Third generation, two variants
According to "Intel Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference" BFloat16 for 2-socket servers only comes with Sapphire Rapids.
Intel has already launched third-generation Xeon-SP processors; however, these are the "Cooper Lake"-types still from the 14 nanometer production, which are primarily intended for servers with four and more processor ports. Conversely, this means that Ice Lake is the third Xeon-SP generation for servers with one or two processors. Facebook uses Cooper Lake but also in the single-socket system "OCP Delta Lake 1S" probably because of the BFloat16 (BF16) data format for AI algorithms.
According to current knowledge, Ice Lake-SP will not support BFloat16 (AVX512_BF16), but only the designated successor Sapphire Rapids, which will also support DDR5-RAM, PCIe 5.0 and AMX brings. At least that is what Intel writes in the document "Intel Architecture Instruction Set Extensions and Future Features Programming Reference".
The fourth Xeon-SP generation Sapphire Rapids is expected sooner in 2022 than at the end of 2021 and is also supposed to replace the Supercomputer "Aurora" depending on the infection situation, together with "Ponte Vecchio"-Computing accelerators with Xe technology.