Security Updates, Improved Instruction Performance and AVX-512 Updates

With every new microarchitecture update, there are goals on several fronts: add new instructions, decrease the latency of current instructions, increase the throughput of current instructions, and remove bugs. The big headline addition for Sunny Cove and Ice Lake is AVX-512, which hasn’t yet appeared on a mainstream widely distributed consumer processor – technically we saw it in Cannon Lake, but that was a limited run CPU. Nonetheless, a lot of what went into Cannon Lake also shows up in the Sunny Cove design. To complicate matters, AVX-512 comes in plenty of different flavors. But on top of that, Intel also made a significant number of improvements to a number of instructions throughout the design.

Big thanks to InstLatX64 for his help in analyzing the benchmark results.


On security, almost all the documented hardware security fixes are in place with Sunny Cove. Through the CPUID results, we can determine that SSBD is enabled, as is IA32_ARCH_CAPABILITIES, L1D_FLUSH, STIBP, IBPB/IBRS and MD_CLEAR.

This aligns with Intel’s list of Sunny Cove security improvements:

Sunny Cove Security
AnandTech Description Name Solution
BCB Bound Check Bypass Spectre V1 Software
BTI Branch Target Injection Spectre V2 Hardware+OS
RDCL Rogue Data Cache Load V3 Hardware
RSSR Rogue System Register Read V3a Hardware
SSB Speculative Store Bypass V4 Hardware+OS
L1TF Level 1 Terminal Fault Foreshadow Hardware
MFBDS uArch Fill Buffer Data Sampling RIDL Hardware
MSBDS uArch Store Buffer Data Sampling Fallout Hardware
MLPDS uArch Load Port Data Sampling - Hardware
MDSUM uArch Data Sampling Uncachable Memory - Hardware

Aside from Spectre V1, which has no suitable hardware solution, almost all of the rest have been solved through hardware/firmware (Intel won’t distinguish which, but to a certain extent it doesn’t matter for new hardware). This is a step in the right direction, but of course it may have a knock-on effect, plus for anything that gets performance improvements being moved from firmware to hardware will be rolled into any advertised IPC increase.

Also on the security side is SGX, or Intel’s Software Guard Instructions. Sunny Cove now becomes Intel’s first public processor to enable both AVX-512 and SGX in the same design. Technically the first chip with both SGX and AVX-512 should have been Skylake-X, however that feature was ultimately disabled due to failing some test validation cases. But it now comes together for Sunny Cove in Ice Lake-U, which is also a consumer processor.

Instruction Improvements and AVX-512

As mentioned, Sunny Cove pulls a number of key improvements from the Cannon Lake design, despite the Cannon Lake chip having the same cache configuration as Skylake. One of the key points here is the 64-bit division throughput, which goes from a 97-cycle latency to an 18-cycle latency, blowing past AMD’s 45-cycle latency. As an ex-researcher with no idea about instruction latency or compiler options, working on high-precision math code, this speedup would have been critical.

  • IDIV -> 97-cycle to 18-cycle

For the general purpose registers, we see a lot of changes, and most of them quite sizable.

Sunny Cove GPR Changes
AnandTech Instruction Skylake Sunny Cove
Complex LEA Complex Load Effective Address 3 cycle latency
1 per cycle
1 cycle latency
2 per cycle
SHL/SHR Shift Left/Right 2 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
1 cycle latency
1 per cycle
ROL/ROR Rotate Left/Right 2 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
1 cycle latency
1 per cycle
SHLD/SHRD Double Precision Shift Left/Right 4 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
4 cycle latency
1 per cycle
4*MOV Four repated string MOVS Limited instructions 104 bits/clock
All MOVS* Instructions

In the past we’ve seen x87 instructions being regressed, made slower, as they become obsolete. For whatever reason, Sunny Cove decreases the FMUL latency from 5 cycles to 4 cycles.

The SIMD units also go through some changes:

Sunny Cove SIMD
AnandTech Instruction Skylake Sunny Cove
SIMD Packing SIMD Packing now slower 1 cycle latency
1 per cycle
3 cycle latency
1 per cycle
AES* AES Crypto Instructions
(for 128-bit / 256-bit)
4 cycle latency
2 per cycle
3 cycle latency
2 per cycle
CLMUL Carry-Less Multiplication 7 cycle latency
1 per cycle
6 cycle latency
1 per cycle
PHADD/PHSUB Packed Horizontal Add/Subtract
and Saturate
3 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
2 cycle latency
1 per cycle
VPMOV* xmm Vector Packed Move 2 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
2 cycle latency
1 per cycle
VPMOV* ymm Vector Packed Move 4 cycle latency
0.5 per cycle
2 cycle latency
1 per cycle
VPMOVZX/SX* xmm Vector Packed Move 1 cycle latency
1 per cycle
1 cycle latency
2 per cycle
POPCNT Microcode 50% faster than SW (under L1-D size)
REP STOS* Repeated Store String 62 bits/cycle 54 bits/cycle
VPCONFLICT Still Microcode Only

We’ve already gone through all of the new AVX-512 instructions in our Sunny Cove microarchitecture disclosure. These include the following families:

  • AVX-512_VNNI (Vector Neural Network Instructions)
  • AVX-512_VBMI (Vector Byte Manipulation Instructions)
  • AVX-512_VBMI2 (second level VBMI)
  • AVX-512_ BITALG (bit algorithms)
  • AVX-512_IFMA (Integer Fused Multiply Add)
  • AVX-512_VAES (Vector AES)
  • AVX-512_VPCLMULQDQ (Carry-Less Multiplacation of Long Quad Words)
  • AVX-512+GFNI (Galois Field New Instructions)
  • SHA (not AVX-512, but still new)
  • GNA (Gaussian Neural Accelerator)

(Intel also has the GMM (Gaussian Mixture Model) inside the core since Skylake, but I’ve yet to see any information on this outside a single line in the coding manual.)

For all these new AVX-512 instructions, it’s worth noting that they can be run in 128-bit, 256-bit, or 512-bit mode, depending on the data types passed to it. Each of these can have corresponding latencies and throughputs, which often get worse when going for the 512-bit mode, but overall assuming you can fill the register with a 512-bit data type, then the overall raw processing will be faster, even with the frequency differential. This doesn’t take into account any additional overhead for entering the 512-bit power state, it should be noted.

Most of these new instructions are relatively fast, with most of them only 1-3 cycles of latency. We observed the following:

Sunny Cove Vector Instructions
AnandTech Instruction XMM YMM ZMM
VNNI Latency Vector Neural Network Instructions 5-cycle 5-cycle 5-cycle
Throughput 2/cycle 2/cycle 1/cycle
VPOPCNT* Latency Return the number of bits set to 1 3-cycle 3-cycle 3-cycle
Throughput 1/cycle 1/cycle 1/cycle
VPCOMPRESS* Latency Store Packed Data 3-cycle 3-cycle 3-cycle
Throughput 0.5/cycle 0.5/cycle 0.5/cycle
VPEXPAND* Latency Load Packed Data 5-cycle 5-cycle 5-cycle
Throughput 0.5/cycle 0.5/cycle 0.5/cycle
VPSHLD* Latency Vector Shift 1-cycle 1-cycle 1-cycle
Throughput 2/cycle 2/cycle 1/cycle
VAES* Latency Vector AES Instructions 3-cycle 3-cycle 3-cycle
Throughput 2/cycle 2/cycle 1/cycle
VPCLMUL Latency Vector Carry-Less Multiply 6-cycle 8-cycle 8-cycle
Throughput 1/cycle 0.5/cycle 0.5/cycle
GFNI Latency Galois Field New Instructions 3-cycle 3-cycle 3-cycle
Throughput 2/cycle 2/cycle 1/cycle

For all of the common AVX2 instructions, xmm/ymm latencies and throughputs are identical to Skylake, however zmm is often a few cycles slower for DIV/SQRT variants.

Other Noticeable Observations

From our testing, we were also able to prove some of the other parts of the core, such as the added store ports and shuffle units.

Our data shows that the second store port is not identical to the first, which explains the imbalance when it comes to writes: rather than supporting 2x64-bit with loads, it only supports either 1x64-bit write, or 1x32-bit write, or 2x16-bit writes. This means we mainly see speed ups with GPR/XMM data, and the result is only a small improvement for 512-bit SCATTER instructions. Otherwise, it seems not to work with any 256-bit or 512-bit operand (you can however use it with 64-bit AVX-512 mask registers). This is going to cause a slight headache for anyone currently limited by SCATTER stores.

The new shuffle unit is only 256-bit wide. It will handle a number of integer instructions (UNPCK, PSLLDQ, SHUF*, MOVSHDUP, but not PALIGNR or PACK), but only a couple of floating point instructions (SHUFPD, SHUFPS).

Cache and TLB Updates SPEC2017 and SPEC2006 Results (15W)


View All Comments

  • 0ldman79 - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link


    They reworked the entire 10nm process to get it going.

    This isn't impossible, it is expensive and time consuming.

    They've spent the $$$ and at least a year working on it.

    It is hardly unheard of that the single most successful tech company on the planet figured out a problem.
  • yeeeeman - Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - link

    This is not a reasonable argument that he gave you. He just wanted, like a lot of people today, to show his hate for Intel. He's not seeing things straight anymore and I really don't understand this hate speech that many people have today about certain products. It is what it is, reviewers test them and there is not much else to say. I guess the reason is more people are being stupid these days. Reply
  • dguy6789 - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    Stop whining. The article is well written and provides plenty of information on Intel's new chip. Nobody gives a hoot about your tinfoil hat nonsense. Reply
  • close - Tuesday, August 6, 2019 - link

    @dguy6789, obviously plenty of people do. AT did somehow manage to bungle repeatedly, always in positive ways for Intel, not so positive for the competition.

    And as these things go, if it turns out AT's current article is spot on then not much will change (past mistakes were still made). But if it turns out they were played *again* (assuming ignorance not bad intentions) and AT offers the same anemic retraction then it's going to be pretty clear where the editorial team stands.
  • AshlayW - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    You can't please everyone lol. I thought the article was great, informative and, imo, fair. Interesting to get a first look at the architecture and I enjoy reading your assessments on the results, puts it into context for me. :)

    I'm a pretty hardcore Ryzen fan too :P
  • MDD1963 - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Yes, how *dare* anyone publish *anything* that could be read as positive about new recent Intel products' performance gains, and the sheer audacity to do so within less than a month of the Ryzen 3000 launch! :/ Reply
  • jospoortvliet - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    It might be an obvious marketing ploy (I agree with that assessment) and that can be pointed out but a journalist wouldn’t be doing their job any better by ignoring this opportunity... both amd and intel as well as NVIDIA play these games all the time. Reply
  • brakdoo - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    Yeah Intel is trying to give journalists more info than the public for the past few months/quarters so that these people think they are special because they are "insiders" (they don't have much else to be proud of).

    These journalists talked so much about IPC over these months but it turned out to be just BS because IPC is nothing without frequency (to a certain extent AMD did the same stupid IPC thing). It is obvious that the frequency issue is not just about 10 nm but instead it's caused by this messed up architecture. Otherwise Intel would just sell 14 nm Ice lake CPUs...

    They even fooled these tech sites with the graphics performance. It's barely faster than Iris plus 655.

    AMD had a bad history of weird journalist events and giving too much NDA info but Intel turned it into a real shitshow.
  • Gondalf - Thursday, August 1, 2019 - link

    Likely you have some problems with Sunny Cove that is clearly superior than Zen 2 even without fast desktop DRAM and without an insane amount of L3.
    Pretty certain you are trying to realize how fast will be Ice Lake EP in server space.
    The end of a dream??? Yes it is.

    Obviously Intel is preparing itself to finer nodes that will not allow fast clock speeds anymore but an intersting density instead.

    This review is a nice example of what will be the future Intel core performance cadence in the next two years.
    Many thanks Haifa Team.

    About GPU, it is pretty good because now it performs at 15W level and without an expensive eDRAM. Try to run the new GPU within 28W and you will have an idea of the advantages of the new ark vs. 9.5.
  • 0ldman79 - Friday, August 2, 2019 - link

    Brakdoo is way off in his assertions, but I believe you have rose colored glasses too.

    Intel got the efficient process working, not the high performance one. They still have 14nm planned out for another year at least.

    It isn't just the lithography that is the problem either, Sunny Cove is a different architecture, it just might not clock as high. We'll have to wait and see how that all works out.

    I do agree though, speeds are probably going to stall if not regress moving forward. It's just a lot of amps going through a tiny circuit. 14nm might have been the sweet spot to get the highest clock speeds. Smaller circuits will only get hotter carrying the same current. Unless they significantly lower power usage it is going to be a problem.

    Apparently .7v is the switching point for silicon semi-conductors, below that the transistors don't switch, so to go beyond 7nm or 5nm they're very likely going to have to move to a more conductive material to lower the switching point as well as resistance (heat buildup).

    Interesting times...

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now