Analysis At this week’s launch of Intel’s 13th Gen Core series, it looks like staff accidentally left out a previously undisclosed 34-core Raptor Lake CPU wafer.
As spotted by Tom’s Hardware, the board had a sticker that read “Raptor Lake-S, 34 core”. Close inspection of each die revealed a mesh of 34 separate CPU cores, suggesting they are all performance cores; there’s no sign of quad-core clusters indicating Intel’s efficiency cores. The die also appears to represent eight memory controllers — far more than you’d expect on a regular desktop chip — as well as UPI blocks, which are only needed for multi-CPU systems.
The discovery seems to indicate that Intel has a Raptor-Lake family workstation in development to challenge AMD’s Threadripper processors. Threadripper has 64 cores spread across eight dies. This “Raptor Lake S” die seems to pack just over half of that into a single monolithic die.
Of course, there’s no guarantee this thing will even work, if all 34 cores will be enabled or usable, or if it will ever see a commercial release.
Chipmakers are showing off wafers at events, like its Innovation 2022 conference in Silicon Valley this week, to impress journalists, analysts and customers. Arrays are usually components that have already been publicly announced.
The cynics among us will think this wafer was strategically and discreetly left on display at the event for someone to find, but from what we can tell, that was an Intel mistake. Again, it’s Chipzilla.
A fire-breathing raptor?
Although the dies can represent 34 cores each, don’t expect performance to scale linearly compared to Intel’s desktop chips. While it may have over 4x more performance cores than just-released 13th Gen Core processors, it will still be limited by power and thermal limits. Remember that with eight performance cores and eight efficiency cores, Intel’s Core i7 13700K is rated to draw 253W of power.
Most workstation and server processors max out at 280W per socket, which doesn’t leave much headroom for all those extra performance cores. That is unless Intel decides to push that limit. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Intel take this route. As Intel has demonstrated over the past two generations of Core-series components and its growing lineup of GPUs and accelerators, it’s not afraid of a little heat. Intel’s Guadi-2 AI accelerators and upcoming Ponte Vecchio GPUs both have 600W TDPs.
With enough 12-volt EPS connectors, beefy voltage regulator modules, and a socket capable of delivering all that power to the chip, it’s not inconceivable to think that Intel could push the power consumption envelope well. beyond the 280 W we expect. from data center and workstation chips. However, doing it in a workstation-class chip would almost certainly require liquid cooling at a minimum.
More likely, Intel will continue the long-standing tradition of swapping frequency for core counts. It basically boils down to this: for a fixed power budget, the more cores you have, the fewer volts you need to pass. Therefore, the only way to increase clocks while increasing the number of cores is to ether to make the architecture more efficient or increase the power budget.
Probably not a HEDT part
While it’s been almost three years since Intel last launched a high-end desktop processor (HEDT) – the last being the 18-core, 36-thread Core i9 10980XE – this 34-core Raptor Lake die does not is probably not his successor.
In many ways, the 12th and now 13th Gen Intel Core processors have filled the void left by the 10980XE, with its 13th Gen Core i9 13900K now offering 24 cores – eight performance and 16 efficiency.
The presence of eight memory controllers and UPI – Ultra Path Interconnect – blocks seems to support this conclusion and rather suggests that this chip could be intended for Intel’s Xeon W platform.
As workstation chips have evolved, Intel has always offered a diverse line of chips, ranging from its low-end Core series components to HEDT, Xeon W, and more recently, Xeon Scalable for workloads. thread-aware work.
A 34-core chip is also not revolutionary for Intel. The chipmaker’s Xeon W-3375 processor is based on its Ice Lake Xeon Scalable platform and has up to 38 cores. Meanwhile, Intel’s Xeon Scalable chips top out at 40. But since we’ve only seen one die, there’s no reason to think Intel won’t have a core-count SKU. higher.
Regardless of whether this chip makes it to commercial release, Intel’s apparent oversight offers a glimpse of its thinking on workstation parts even as it follows AMD and Apple down the chiplet rabbit hole with Sapphire Rapids. . ®
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