After getting strong competition from AMD in Computex 2019, Intel has finally announced their workstation products for the year. Two years ago Intel had complete dominance on the workstation processors. AMD’s Epyc processors were never a match for the Xeon processors offered by Intel. The dynamics of the market have equalised a lot. The new Ryzen Threadrippers are giving Xeon processors a run for their money. On a core level, Intel is slightly ahead, however, the overall performance of Threadrippers are vastly superior, specially on a pricing basis.
AMD has yet to release the 3rd gen Threadippers, so it is the best time for Intel to release their new Cascade Lake 3000 series Xeon W processors. The announcement comes as Apple announced the new Mac Pro. These new processors will be employed on Apple’s new workstation beast. More on Mac Pro here.
Tomshardware reports that these Cascade lake W processors are here to replace the Skylake W series of processors. Intel has increased the core count of the processors though they are fabbed on the same old (slightly refined) 14nm++ process. The Skylake W processors resided on the old LGA 2066 socket, which Intel had been using for years. The cascade lake series comes with a new chipset called LGA 3647. There has been no word from Intel regarding the compatibility of the new processors with the LGA 2066 socket.
Coming to the core count of these processors. Intel has more or less doubled the core count on these. The entry-level Skylake W processor had 4-cores, it is now upgraded to eight-cores for the Cascade lake series. The flagship 18-core CPU, however, did not get the same treatment as it was only upgraded to 24-cores. For the sake of comparison, the flagship Threadripper from last year had 32 cores. The increase in the number of cores increases power draw, that is why we see 33-46% increase in the overall TDP. I hope these processors do not require the beefy coolers Intel showcased last year at Computex. Details of these processors are in the image below.
Besides the increase in the number of cores, Intel has also upgraded the memory channel. These processors now support quad-channel memory. Moreover, the transition to the new socket allows memory support up to 1TB. These processors will support DDR4 memory up to 2933MHz out of the box which is a plus point, especially with the quad-channel memory support. The new chipset now supports 64 lane PCIe 3.0 instead of 32 lanes. For perspective, AMD’s new x570 chipset supports the latest PCIe 4.0 interface.
Lastly, Intel is also offering the Cascade lake “M” processors with memory support up to 2TB. These processors will be unusually expensive even for comparative workstation processors.