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


View All Comments

  • johannesburgel - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    "We have a new method inside the company to decouple IP from the process technology. You must remember that customers buy the product, not a transistor family. It’s the same transformation AMD had to go through to change the design methodology when they were struggling."

    ...doesn't that basically mean they're going fabless, or are at least going to develop a design for multiple processes so they can also use other fabs as well? Not that I'm disagreeing with that! If I was Intel I would have started doing so years ago, when everybody else was starting to do it.
  • anonomouse - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    I think this just means fewer hand placed/routed custom logic blocks, and more synthesis/APR. If you look at most other dies these days, you see a sea of gates. When you look at intel dies, in the cpu cores you see very tight, regular logic blocks. Every mention of "abstraction" in the Q&A screamed synthesis/APR. This may make it possible for them to port to other foundries if they wanted to, but I doubt they would.

    An interesting question is whether this has any implications to power/timing/area optimization vs. the current approach, as a lot of their ability to push very high clocks might come from how much more custom logic design goes into their implementation.
  • kapg - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    I guess in the image Intel 'CPU Core Roadmap' for Atom the name 'Next' Month is a typo from Intel Reply
  • Alexvrb - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    "quad-channel memory controller (4x16-bit)"

    Well, we know the GPU won't be competitive with upcoming ARM designs, then. Otherwise, very neat mobile class chip design.
  • Arbie - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    "Golden Cove ... is firmly in that 2021 segment ... we’re likely to see it on 10nm and or 7nm."

    Likely? If it isn't one of those two it will be big news indeed.
  • HStewart - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    10nm is already stated for Sunny Cove in 2019, so it likely 7nm - but keep in mind the process (nm) is decouple for process - so it could be 10nm or 7nm Reply
  • ajc9988 - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Ian, the active interposer isn't new, and I am wanting o know more exactly what has been moved to the active interposer. AMD's whitepapers on the topic, using routers, etc., on an active interposer, was published in 2014 and a follow up on 2015. In late 2017, AMD published a white paper dealing with the costs of doing so, where producing an active interposer on smaller than 40nm resulted in costs being the same as producing a monolithic die. AdoredTV did two videos on this topic months ago, as a matter of fact. So, unless they are sticking some of the features that AMD put on the I/O die onto the active interposer, this is doing what AMD plans to do but chose not to on the basis of cost. Check out these papers and videos:

    Intel seems to now be using ideas from everywhere else in the industry, while also using 22nm fabs that would have been slated for decommission if not for the 10nm fiasco that is their process, which they had to push certain chipsets to due to the 14nm shortage, meaning they need to keep the fab time full to justify them keeping the lights on and a 22nm active interposer fits the bill. The article practically writes itself.
  • iwod - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    No news on opening up TB3? Which they promised to do in 2018.

    The Hybrid, I wish it had two HP Core. but 7W is actually the same TDP for MacBook Air Retina.
  • The_Assimilator - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    Thunderbolt is dead in mainstream PCs at this point, because there's no use-case in which it outperforms USB by enough to justify its cost (both of implementation and in the peripherals that people actually want to use). It's become another almost-Mac-exclusive like Firewire, and will share the same fate. Reply
  • gamerk2 - Thursday, December 13, 2018 - link

    Yep, this pretty much the same thing that happened to Firewire. Thunderbolt never had a reason to exist; USB3 handles pretty much every TB3 use-case. Reply

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