Ice Lake 10nm Xeon Scalable On Display

One of the more sedate talks at the event was discussing Intel’s approach in the datacenter. We’ve covered this story in detail, especially at Intel’s Data-Centric Summit only a few months ago. Intel has stated that Cascade Lake and Cooper Lake are the next two products for the enterprise market, both built on 14nm, focusing on enhanced security as well as AI instructions to help with acceleration. We also know that after these two Intel will have Ice Lake Scalable built on 10nm, but that’s about it.

To be honest, we don’t actually know much more than what we did back then. Intel confirmed that Ice Lake will be built using Sunny Cove cores. But Intel also showed off what they said was an Ice Lake Xeon 10nm processor and package, as shown in the image above.

Color me skeptical, but what was held up is likely either not ICL-SP or just silicon that doesn’t work. In order to make those products, Intel would have to have pumped out at least one large (350mm2+?) die that worked and then put it into a package with a heatspreader. Intel finally seems to be happy discussing a few products on 10nm, as shown at this event, but all the 10nm hardware is based on tiny 100mm2 or smaller silicon. Given Intel’s documented problems, I would have loved that CPU that was held up in the air to be Ice Lake-SP. But I’ll need to see something more concrete to believe it at this point; it’s too much of a jump.

Ending Intel’s Architecture Day

As I’m writing this, it is 3am PT and only a couple of hours away from Intel’s listed embargo time. The event finished 10 hours ago (a few of us skipped the end event drinks to get to writing) and despite the short time to write it all up, it was a good event overall. For the first time in a good while, Intel decided to talk shop, and in an honest way with very little hand waving. One could argue that in every discussion point, Intel raised more questions than they answered, but the positive here is that questions are being answered, and Intel is willing to share things like roadmaps into 2021, demonstrations of some exciting new products for 2019/2020, and a taste of how they are progressing in both manufacturing and microarchitecture. Hopefully Intel will feel the same and this can become a yearly cadence. The trio of Keller, Koduri, and Murthy, is a strong team to field to the press, and this event fits that bill.

To end this piece, I’m going to put in the Q&A section from day’s presentations, as well as some of the questions put in my particular round-table. It’s an interesting read, and it helps that Jim is full of memorable quotes.

Intel’s First Fovoros and First Hybrid x86 CPU: Core plus Atom in 7 W on 10 nm Intel Made Something Really Funny: Q&A with Raja, Jim, and Murthy
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  • Spunjji - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    They committed to Adaptive Sync back with Skylake, but it's taken this long to see it because they haven't released a new GPU design since then. It would have been a *very* weird move to suddenly release their own tech. Reply
  • gamerk2 - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    I think it's more likely NVIDIA just waits for HDMI 2.1, which supports VRR as part of the specification.

    I also suspect HDMI 2.1 will eventually kill of Displayport entirely; Now that HDMI offers more bandwidth, and given Displayport is a non-factor in the consumer (TV) market, there really isn't a compelling reason for it to continue to exist alongside HDMI. We *really* don't need competing digital video connector standards, and HDMI isn't going anywhere.
    Reply
  • edzieba - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    HDMI is fantastic for AV, but has NO PLACE WHATSOEVER for desktop monitors. It causes a multitude of problems due to abusing a standard intended for very specific combinations of resolutions and refresh rates (and a completely different colour range and colour space standards), add offers zero benefits. Get it the hell off the back of my GPU where it wastes space that could be occupied by a far more useful DP++ connector Reply
  • Icehawk - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    Setting all else aside - DP is "better" because the plugs lock IMO. HDMI and mini-DP both have no retention system and that makes it something I do my best to avoid both personally and professionally, love the "my monitor doesn't work" calls when it's just you moved your dock and it wiggled the mini-DP connector. Reply
  • jcc5169 - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Intel will be at a perpetual disadvantage because byt the time they bring our 7nm product, AMD will have been delivering for 2 whole years. Reply
  • shabby - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    You belive tsmc's 7nm is equal to Intel's 7nm? Reply
  • silverblue - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    7nm != 7nm in this case; in fact, Intel's 10nm process looks to be just as dense as TSMC's 7nm. I think the question is more about how quickly TSMC/GF/Samsung can offer a 5nm process, because I wouldn't expect a manufacturing lead anytime soon (assuming 10nm processors come out on time). Reply
  • YoloPascual - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    10nm iNTeL iS bEttER tHAn 7nm TSMC??? Reply
  • ajc9988 - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    The nodes are marketing jargon. Intel's 10nm=TSMC 7nm for intents and purposes. Intel's 7nm=TSMC5n/3nm, approximately. TSMC is doing volume 5nm EUV next year, IIRC, for Apple during H2, while working on 7nm EUV for AMD (or something like that) with 5nm being offered in 2020 products alongside 7nm EUV. Intel's current info shows 7nm for 2021 with EUV, but that is about the time that TSMC is going to get 3nm, alongside Samsung which is keeping up on process roughly alongside TSMC. Intel will never again have a lead like they had. They bet on EUV and partners couldn't deliver, then they just kept doing Skylake refreshes instead of porting designs back to 14nm like the one engineer said he told them to do and Intel didn't listen.

    I see nothing ground breaking from Intel unless they can solve the Cobalt issues, as due to the resistances at the size of the connections at the smaller nodes, Cobalt is a necessity. TSMC is waiting to deal with Cobalt, same with Samsung, while Intel uses that and Ruthenium. Meanwhile, Intel waited so long on EUV to be ready, they gave up waiting and instead are waiting for that to mature while TSMC and Samsung are pushing ahead with it, even with the known mask issues and pellicles not being ready. The race is fierce, but unless someone falters or TSMC and Samsung can't figure out Cobalt or other III-V materials when Intel cracks the code, no one will have a clear lead by years moving forward. And use of an active interposer doesn't guarantee a clear lead, as others have the tech (including AMD) but have chosen not to use it on cost basis to date. Intel had to push chipsets back onto 22nm plants that were going to be shut down. Now that they cannot be shut down, keeping them full to justify the expense is key, and 22nm active interposers on processes that have been around the better part of the last decade (high yield, low costs due to maturity) is a good way to achieve that goal. In fact, producing at 32nm and below, in AMD's cost analysis, shows that the price is the same as doing a monolithic die. That means, since Intel never got a taste of chiplets giving better margins with an MCM, Intel won't feel a hit by going straight for the active interposer, as the cost is going to be roughly what their monolithic dies cost.
    Reply
  • porcupineLTD - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    TSMC will start risc production of 5nm in late 2019 at the earliest, next apple SOC will be 7nm+(EUV) and so will zen 3. Reply

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