Conclusion: Price Makes Perfect

When you buy a system, ask yourself – what matters most to you?

Is it gaming performance?
Is it bang-for-buck?
Is it all-out peak performance?
Is it power consumption?
Is it performance per watt?

I can guarantee that out of the AnandTech audience, we will have some readers in each of these categories. Some will be price sensitive, while others will not. Some will be performance sensitive, others will be power (or noise) sensitive. The point here is that the Xeon W-3175X only caters to one market: high performance.

We tested the Xeon W-3175X in our regular suite of tests, and it performs as much as we would expect – it is a 28 core version of the Core i9-9980XE, so in single threaded tests it is about the same, but in raw multi-threaded tests it performs up to 50% better. For rendering, that’s great. For our variable threaded tests, the gains are not as big, from either no gain at all to around 20% or so. This is the nature of increasing threads – at some point, software hits Amdahl’s law of scaling and more threads does nothing. However, for software that isn’t at that point, the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball.

Corona 1.3 Benchmark

For our graphs, some of them had two values: a regular value in orange, and one in red called 'Intel Spec'. ASUS offers the option to 'open up' the power and current limits of the chip, so the CPU is still running at the same frequency but is not throttled. Despite Intel saying that they recommend 'Intel Spec', the system they sent to us to test was actually set up with the power limits opened up, and the results they provided for us to compare to internally also correlated with that setting. As a result, we provided both sets results for our CPU tests.

For the most part, the 'opened up' results scored better, especially in multithreaded tests, however Intel Spec did excel in memory bound tests. This is likely because in the 'opened up' way, there is no limit to keeping the high turbo which means there could be additional stalls for memory based workloads. In a slower 'Intel Spec' environment, there's plenty of power for the mesh and the memory controllers do deal with requests as they come.

Power, Overclockability, and Availability

Two-and-a-half questions hung over Intel during the announcement and launch of the W-3175X. First one was power, second was overclockability, and two-point-five was availability.

On the power side of the equation, again the W-3175X comes in like a wrecking ball, and this baby is on fire. While this chip has a 255W TDP, the turbo max power value is 510W – we don’t hit that at ‘stock’ frequency, which is more around the 300W mark, but we can really crank out the power when we start overclocking.

This processor has a regular all-core frequency of 3.8 GHz, with AVX2 at 3.2 GHz and AVX-512 at 2.8 GHz. In our testing, just by adjusting multipliers, we achieved an all-core turbo of 4.4 GHz and an AVX2 turbo of 4.0 GHz, with the systems drawing 520W and 450W respectively. At these frequencies, our CPU was reporting temperatures in excess of 110ºC! This processor is actually rated with a thermal shutoff at 120ºC, well above the 105ºC we see with regular desktop processors, which shows that perhaps Intel had to bin these chips enough that the high temperature profile was required.

On the question of availability, this is where the road is not so clear. Intel is intending only to sell these processors through OEMs and system integrators as part of pre-built systems only, for now. We’ve heard some numbers about how many chips will be made (it’s a low four-digit number), but we can only approximately confirm those numbers given one motherboard vendor also qualified how many boards they were building.

One of Anand’s comments I will always remember during our time together at AnandTech was this:

“There are no bad products, only bad prices.”

According to OEMs we spoke to, initially this processor was going to be $8k. The idea here is that being 28-core and unlocked, Intel did not want to consume its $10k Xeon market. Since then, distributors told us that the latest information they were getting was around $4500, and now Intel is saying that the recommended consumer price is $3000. That’s not Intel’s usual definition of ‘per-1000 units’, that’s the actual end-user price. Intel isn’t even quoting a per-1000 unit price, which just goes to substantiate the numbers we heard about volume.

At $8000, this CPU would be dead in the water, only suitable for high-frequency traders who could eat up the cost within a few hours of trading. At $4500, it would be a stretch, given that 18-core on Intel is only $2099, and AMD offers the 32-core 2990WX for $1799 which surpasses the performance per dollar on any rendering task.

At $2999, Intel has probably priced this one just right.

At $2999, it's not a hideous monstronsity that some worried it would be, but instead becomes a very believeable progression from the Core i9-9980XE. Just don’t ask about the rest of the system, as an OEM is probably looking at a $7k minimum build, or $10k end-user shelf price.

Gaming: F1 2018
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  • mapesdhs - Saturday, February 02, 2019 - link

    Is that the same issue as the one referring to running on core zero? I watched a video about it recently but I can't recall if it was L1T or elsewhere. Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Sunday, February 03, 2019 - link

    it is that issue yes. blocking use of core is a work-around that kind'a works. Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Sunday, February 03, 2019 - link

    (in some workloads, not all) Reply
  • Coolmike980 - Monday, February 04, 2019 - link

    So here's my thing: Why can't we have good benchmarks? Nothing here on Linux, and nothing in a VM. I'd be willing to be good money I could take a 2990, run Linux, run 5 VM's of 6 cores each, run these benchmarks (the non-gpu dependent ones), and collectively beat the pants off of this CPU under any condition you want to run it. Also, this Civ 6 thing - the only benchmark that would be of any value would be the CPU one, and they've been claiming to want to make this work for 2 years now. Either get it working, or drop it altogether. Rant over. Thanks. Reply
  • FlanK3r - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    where is CinebenchR15 results? In testing methology is it, but in results I can not find it :) Reply
  • MattsMechanicalSSI - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    der8auer did a delid video, and a number of CB runs. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aD9B-uu8At8 Also, Steve at GN has had a good look at it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N29jTOjBZrw Reply
  • MattZN - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    @MattsMechanicalSSI Yup... both are very telling.

    I give the 3175X a pass on DDR connectivity (from the DerBauer video) since he's constantly having to socket and unsocket the chip, but I agree with him that there should be a carrier for a chip that large. Depending on the user to guess the proper pressure is a bad idea.

    But, particularly the GN review around 16:00 or so where we see the 3175X pulling 672W at the wall (OC) for a tiny improvement in time over the 2990WX. Both AMD and Intel goose these CPUs, even at stock, but the Intel numbers are horrendous. They aren't even trying to keep wattages under control.

    The game tests are more likely an issue with the windows scheduler (ala Wendel's work). And the fact that nobody in their right mind runs games on these CPUs.

    The Xeon is certainly a faster CPU, but the price and the wattage cost kinda make it a non-starter. There's really no point to it, not even for professional work. Steve (GN) kinda thinks that there might be a use-case with Premier but... I don't really. At least not for the ~5 months or so before we get the next node on AMD (and ~11 months for Intel).

    -Matt
    Reply
  • mapesdhs - Saturday, February 02, 2019 - link

    Cinebench is badly broken at this level of cores, it's not scaling properly anymore. See:

    https://www.servethehome.com/cinebench-r15-is-now-...
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    For $3000 USD, a 28 core unlocked Xeon chip isn't terribly bad. The real issue is its incredibly low volume nature and that in effect only two motherboards are going to be supporting it. LGA 3647 is a wide spread platform but the high 255W TDP keeps it isolated.

    Oddly I think Intel would have had better success if they also simultaneously launched an unlocked 18 core part with even higher base/turbo clocks. This would have threaded the needle better in terms of per thread performance and overall throughput. The six channel memory configuration would have assisted in performance to distinguish itself from the highend Core i9 Extreme chips.

    The other aspect is that there is no clear upgrade path from the current chips: pretty much one chip to board ratio for the life time of the product. There is a lot on the Xeon side Intel has planned like on package FGPAs, Omnipath fabric and Nervana accelerators which could stretch their wings with a 255 W TDP. The Xeon Gold 6138P is an example of this as it comes with an Arria 10 FPGA inside but a slightly reduced clock 6138 die as well at a 195 W TDP. At 255 W, that chip wouldn't have needed to compromise the CPU side. For the niche market Intel is targeting, a FPGA solution would be interesting if they pushed ideas like OpenCL and DirectCompute to run on the FPGA alongside the CPU. Doing something really bold like accelerating PhysX on the FPGA would have been an interesting demo of what that technology could do. Or leverage the FGPA for DSP audio effects in a full 3D environment. That'd give something for these users to look forward to.

    Well there is the opportunity to put in other LGA 3647 parts into these boards but starting off with a 28 core unlocked chip means that other offering are a downgrade. With luck, Ice Lake-SP would be an upgrade but Intel hasn't committed to it on LGA 3647.

    Ultimately this looks like AMD's old 4x4/QuadFX efforts that'll be quickly forgotten by history.

    Speaking of AMD, Intel missing the launch window by a few months places it closer to the eminent launch of new Threader designs leveraging Zen 2 and AMD's chiplet strategy. I wouldn't expect AMD to go beyond 32 cores for Threadripper but the common IO die should improve performance overall on top of the Zen 2 improvements. Intel has some serious competition coming.
    Reply
  • twtech - Wednesday, January 30, 2019 - link

    Nobody really upgrades workstation CPUs, but it sounds like getting a replacement in the event of failure.could be difficult if the stock will be so limited.

    If Dell and HP started offering this chip in their workstation lineup - which I don't expect to happen given the low-volume CPU production and needing a custom motherboard - then I think it would have been a popular product.
    Reply

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