Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU Production Woes Moves Launch To Early 2023

Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU Production Woes Moves Launch To Early 2023

Intel Promises 3x Performance Boost With Its Next-Gen Sapphire Rapids HBM 'Xeon Scalable' CPU Lineup 1

Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs have witnessed a huge delay and there are a number of reasons as to why that has happened. Our good fellow, Igor Wallosek from Igor’s Lab, has a detailed outline of what went wrong and when the chips will be actually available.

Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs Bugs, Production Woes, Vulnerabilities Among Countless Reasons For 2023 Delay

The Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU lineup for servers was meant to launch and compete with AMD’s EPYC Milan CPUs. Since their announcement, AMD has launched Milan, Milan-X, and will launch Genoa in the coming months. While we were expecting that Sapphire Rapids could ship around the same time as Genoa, that doesn’t seem to be the case as the launch is being pushed back to early 2023.

With a total of 12 (!) steppings, they haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory either, and I can’t remember any project so far that needed so many steppings before you could even use it to some extent. This started with A0 and A1, then proceeded via B0, C0, C1, C2, D0, E0, E2, E3 and E4 until currently stepping E5! The market launch was planned about 1.5 years ago and the plan was recently updated again.

Until now, Intel’s customers and partners assumed that the chips would be available in the second half of 2022, but internal information is now becoming a bit more concrete. Intel has now announced the “launch window” for Sapphire Rapids (SPR) for calendar week 6 to 9 (Feb. 6, 2023 to March 3, 2023), while the first shipment to selected recipients is still scheduled for 2022 in two waves. Calendar week 42 for the smallest models (2S) and calendar week 45 for the larger models (4 and 8S) are being speculated.

via Igor’s Lab

According to Igor, at the moment, Intel has a total of 12 Steppings for its Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs. There are A0, A1, B0, C0, C1, C2, D0, E0, E2, E3, E4, and the most recent E5 stepping. The main reason why there are so many steppings is that Sapphire Rapids production hasn’t been groundbreaking and on the way, Intel encountered various problems.

One of these problems is a security vulnerability that was encountered in the previous chip iteration. While Intel has a new stepping on the way, some of Intel’s customers were reluctant to wait and ordered the affected chips but they also aren’t going to utilize the affected portion of the CPU so they will remain unaffected by the vulnerability. There’s also talk about Intel shipping out low-end SKUs earlier whereas the high-volume supply is expected to ship later.

As per Igor’s Lab, according to internal documents, the latest Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU launch is pitted between weeks 6 to 9 of 2023. That’s between February 6th, 2023 till March 3rd, 2023.

Yeah. And giving a bit more detail on Sapphire, we’re already ramping a number of SKUs of Sapphire Rapids already. They began ramping last quarter. So we have a number of those ramping.

The particular issue that we highlighted wasn’t affecting those SKUs, so those continue to ramp. So we did another tape out, which I’ll say, for the larger volume SKUs, and those will be volume shipping in the second half of the year. So you’ll see us ramping those and launching those. So we’re fully on track for that, and we feel like we’re over all of the issues that we’ve had in bringing that product to marketplace.

So we feel very comfortable with that. We’re then working very closely — emerald goes into the Sapphire platform. So we’re working very closely with our customers on the timing there. The product is looking very healthy.

So we’re nicely on track. So that will be a ’23 product. And then Granite and Sierra Forest is the ’24 product. And just to remind everybody, this is a major new platform.

Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger (Q2 2022 Earnings Call)

We have also seen some early performance numbers for Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs and things don’t look great for Intel as they missed out big to compete against Milan. While the chiplet CPU design allows for higher ASPs, the impending delay means that there are obviously going to be some major consequences and adverse ones for the pushback. Intel has also highlighted their next-generation Emerald Rapids CPUs which they are expecting to launch by 2023 and Granite Rapids chips by 2024 though, given the current delay, we can’t put too much trust in the figures.

Intel Xeon SP Families (Preliminary):

Family Branding Skylake-SP Cascade Lake-SP/AP Cooper Lake-SP Ice Lake-SP Sapphire Rapids Emerald Rapids Granite Rapids Diamond Rapids
Process Node 14nm+ 14nm++ 14nm++ 10nm+ Intel 7 Intel 7 Intel 3 Intel 3?
Platform Name Intel Purley Intel Purley Intel Cedar Island Intel Whitley Intel Eagle Stream Intel Eagle Stream Intel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
Intel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
Core Architecture Skylake Cascade Lake Cascade Lake Sunny Cove Golden Cove Raptor Cove Redwood Cove? Lion Cove?
IPC Improvement (Vs Prev Gen) 10% 0% 0% 20% 19% 8%? 35%? 39%?
MCP (Multi-Chip Package) SKUs No Yes No No Yes Yes TBD (Possibly Yes) TBD (Possibly Yes)
Socket LGA 3647 LGA 3647 LGA 4189 LGA 4189 LGA 4677 LGA 4677 TBD TBD
Max Core Count Up To 28 Up To 28 Up To 28 Up To 40 Up To 56 Up To 64? Up To 120? Up To 144?
Max Thread Count Up To 56 Up To 56 Up To 56 Up To 80 Up To 112 Up To 128? Up To 240? Up To 288?
Max L3 Cache 38.5 MB L3 38.5 MB L3 38.5 MB L3 60 MB L3 105 MB L3 120 MB L3? 240 MB L3? 288 MB L3?
Vector Engines AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-512/FMA2 AVX-1024/FMA3? AVX-1024/FMA3?
Memory Support DDR4-2666 6-Channel DDR4-2933 6-Channel Up To 6-Channel DDR4-3200 Up To 8-Channel DDR4-3200 Up To 8-Channel DDR5-4800 Up To 8-Channel DDR5-5600? Up To 12-Channel DDR5-6400? Up To 12-Channel DDR6-7200?
PCIe Gen Support PCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes) PCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes) PCIe 3.0 (48 Lanes) PCIe 4.0 (64 Lanes) PCIe 5.0 (80 lanes) PCIe 5.0 (80 Lanes) PCIe 6.0 (128 Lanes)? PCIe 6.0 (128 Lanes)?
TDP Range (PL1) 140W-205W 165W-205W 150W-250W 105-270W Up To 350W Up To 375W? Up To 400W? Up To 425W?
3D Xpoint Optane DIMM N/A Apache Pass Barlow Pass Barlow Pass Crow Pass Crow Pass? Donahue Pass? Donahue Pass?
Competition AMD EPYC Naples 14nm AMD EPYC Rome 7nm AMD EPYC Rome 7nm AMD EPYC Milan 7nm+ AMD EPYC Genoa ~5nm AMD EPYC Bergamo AMD EPYC Turin AMD EPYC Venice
Launch 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022 2023? 2024? 2025?

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