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Intel Xeon Roadmap on Track: Intel Unveils 288 Core Sierra Forest Xeon CPU

Image: Intel

Intel has unveiled its ambitious Xeon CPU roadmap at the Innovation 2023 event. This roadmap outlines Intel’s plans for the Birch Stream platform, featuring three prominent product families: Sierra Forest, Granite Rapids, and Clearwater Forest. In this article, we will delve into the key details of this announcement and explore how these developments will impact high-density servers, data centers, and AI applications.

Sierra Forest: A Leap in Core Count

Intel’s Sierra Forest, part of the Xeon SP lineup, made headlines with its astonishing core count. This energy-efficient CPU, based on the E-core architecture, boasts a remarkable 288 cores on a single die, doubling the previous expectations of 144 cores. This development positions Intel squarely in competition with AMD’s EPYC Bergamo CPUs, which offer up to 128 Zen 4C cores.

The Sierra Forest chips are manufactured using Intel 3, a 5-nanometer EUV (extreme ultraviolet) process. This advanced technology enables Intel to achieve impressive core densities and efficiency. Moreover, two Sierra Forest chiplets can be integrated into a single Birch Stream socket, resulting in a socket with 288 cores and a dozen DDR5 memory channels. This leap in core count promises to revolutionize server performance and meet the demands of modern data centers.

Emerald Rapids: Next-Gen Xeon for Enhanced AI

Intel’s 5th Gen Xeon family, codenamed Emerald Rapids, is set to launch on December 14, 2023. This new family, compatible with the existing Eagle Stream platform, introduces significant upgrades. It offers faster memory and substantial performance gains compared to its predecessor while consuming the same power. Emerald Rapids is expected to deliver up to 40 percent more performance on key workloads like AI, a vital aspect of modern computing.

Birch Stream Platform Compatibility

One of the critical revelations in Intel’s roadmap is the compatibility of Sierra Forest, Granite Rapids, and Clearwater Forest with the Birch Stream platform. This platform introduces two socket types, LGA 4710 and LGA 7529, catering to diverse server configurations and requirements. The seamless integration of these CPUs into the Birch Stream ecosystem ensures versatility and scalability for data center operators.

AI Advancements and Industry Momentum

Intel’s commitment to artificial intelligence (AI) was another focal point of the Innovation 2023 event. The company announced the construction of a cutting-edge AI supercomputer powered entirely by Intel Xeon processors and 4,000 Gaudi2 AI hardware accelerators. Stability AI, a pioneering AI-driven visual art startup, is set to be the anchor customer for this supercomputer, signaling Intel’s dedication to advancing AI technologies.

Additionally, Intel is collaborating with industry leaders like Dell Technologies to offer AI solutions tailored to meet various AI workloads, from large-scale training to base-level inferencing. Alibaba Cloud’s endorsement of 4th Gen Xeon as a viable solution for real-time large language model (LLM) inference showcases Intel’s prowess in accelerating AI workloads.

Intel Innovation 2023
Image: Intel

The Future of Intel’s Processor Generations

In addition to the Xeon roadmap, Intel provided insights into its upcoming processor generations. Meteor Lake, set to launch on December 14, is described as a significant architectural shift in Intel’s processor design, promising noticeable performance and efficiency improvements. Arrow Lake, Lunar Lake, and Panther Lake are also on the horizon, slated for release in the coming years, each with its unique features and capabilities.


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