When Intel showed a 28-core system running at 5 GHz at Computex 2018 intronik this week, there were a lot of hardware-related questions and what was required to display this. The presentation is relatively light on detail - it may be so deliberate - but Intel SVP and GM Gregory Bryant stated that the processor was set to exit in Q4.
Now there are obviously many questions about the demonstration. Is the CPU overclocked? What cooling is used? What platforms run it? Which motherboard is running it? What architecture is used? What process node? What is power consumption? We met with an Intel representative yesterday who answered some of these questions.
Is CPU Overclocked?
The Intel representative confirmed that the CPU is overclocked. We were told that on the presenter's stage was actually meant to explain that the system was overclocked, but the specific words were not mentioned because it was prepared.
There are many ways to interpret this - we tell Intel that we hope the presenter will spend more time on stage talking about the system in the game, discussing the running platform, and making the system more 'bright' inside so people can pinpoint things from a photo, rather than looking almost like a black box with a hidden pipe. Our comments are taken on board by the Intel team we talked to.
What cooling is used?
Intel confirms that water chillers are used, which we see in our system demos a day after presentation. We were told that it was not meant to display cooling on stage due to time constraints, which we respond to that the adoption of Intel's pre-overclocked system in the past usually accompanies a discussion of the pre-overclock and cooling properties used. in the past, but this presentation does not have this.
In the pre-briefing we stated that this is a technical exhibition (little where it is stated that this coming to the market is a bit surprising if we are honest), but this is not communicated as it should have been on stage. Once again, Intel stated that they received our comments.
What platforms run it?
Intel does not answer this platform directly, but it is clear that the CPU is aimed at the LGA3647 server-based socket provided from our demo system testing. It is not clear how Intel will promote this as an extreme workstation type system, but Intel does note that they only expect the selected market to be interested in this type of processor: niche niche.
Intel is well aware that there are many customers who will buy performance at any price, and there is no leap to suggest that this section is for that user.
Which Motherboard Activate it?
At the time of presentation, Intel stated that they have partnered with ASUS and GIGABYTE to create a new 28-core product system, but they did not state which system the 5 GHz demo was running. We heard from both motherboard companies that it was a truly GIGABYTE system that reached 5 GHz, but noted that Intel did not explicitly call partners who reached a milestone. GIGABYTE insists that they must reach 5 GHz; we have not spoken to ASUS about this issue. We know that Intel is quickly removing the CPU in a demo system from ASUS and GIGABYTE the next day with little notice. Among those times, we've seen videos published from LinusTechTips (on ASUS) and Paul's Hardware (on GIGABYTE) featuring Cinebench runs.
What Architecture Does It Walk? What is Process Node?
The only thing that will be confirmed by Intel here is that the 28-core processor is built in one of its 14nm nodes. For anyone who thinks it is a 10nm node, this confirms that it does not, but does not say more; Intel deliberately kept his cards near his chest on this one. Apparently this smart money is at least going to be based on Skylake-X processors, such as Xeon Platinum 8176 or Xeon Platinum 8180 instead of Cascade Lake platform in the future, but Intel also promised that the consumer version of Cascade Lake-X will come later this year .
Talking to motherboard and OEM vendors in general about Intel's HEDT plans is a tricky business, but most seem to focus on their current X299 motherboards rather than the X299 series of refreshments that usually accompany HEDT updates.
What is Power Consumption?
Again, this is one of the items Intel wants close to his chest. After confirming that 5.0 GHz is an overclocked value, it means that the TDP base for the 'retail' processor will be much lower, because the chip will run at a much lower clock. The Xeon Platinum 8180 has a base frequency of 2.5 GHz and a 3.8 GHz turbo for TDP of 205W (TDP is defined on a fundamental frequency only), and we know that the LGA3647 socket with Intel reference design is made for chips up to 265W, resulting in 28-core section frequency which is shown by Intel for extreme workstations may only be at most + 100-400 MHz.
Interestingly enough, Intel declared the maximum operating temperature of 8180 at 205W TDP as case temperature of 84C and DTS 98C, which sounded slightly higher than the standard setting for the company chip. This means that this new 28-core, if out on 265W TDP, is likely to be a very high part. Of course, this will come at a higher cost.
One interesting number to get out of the initial announcement is that the overclocker sees 1000W pulling power for the 18-core i9-7980XE core at 4.9 GHz, so one would assume that the 28-core at 5.0 GHz would be more. We know that a demo that reaches 5.0 GHz using Hailea water cooling is capable of 1770W cooling, and the system used has a 1600W power supply with low power graphics card. It gives us a good idea to be tied low and tied up. But Intel will not help narrow down our estimates.
What to Do Intel
One of our points to Intel is that the story around the 28-core announcement was not communicated ideally. (ed: this is dismissive) The systems that hold the machines are not well explained in what they do, resulting in large amounts of speculation. The interior of the system is dim, and the cooling equipment is hidden. Intel could have made a story around the part about the technology behind the demonstration, and the ability to push the hardware boundary to new heights, however, even if the word 'overclock' was accidentally not said on stage, part of the story was not explained. Not in 'it is not explained well', it just is not explained period. The best thing Intel can do at this point is to take the story with horns, and show that this is a passion project: let readers and reviewers know about the platform, about implementation (even if new explicit information is not shared), and it really needs plenty of engineering skills and skills to wear a 28-core demonstration, 5.0 GHz.