A closer look at Intel’s 28-core 5GHz system

A closer look at Intels 28-core 5GHz system

A closer look at Intel’s 28-core 5GHz system

During Intel’s Computex 2018 keynote the company presented an almost unbelievable product demo, showcasing an upcoming 28-core high-end desktop processor running at 5GHz on all processing cores. 

Intel claims that their upcoming 28-core processor will release in Q4 of this year, ushering in a new era of high-performance computing for the company. Remember that Intel’s flagship i9 7980XE has only 18 cores and does not typically reach 5.0GHz while overclocking.

So far Intel’s product demo has been rife with speculation from the tech press, with some alleging that this new processor was an EMID design to attach multiple CPU dies together or a new X299 high-performance SKU. Neither of these hypotheses has proven to be the case, making Intel’s demo look like more like an overclockable XEON than something entirely new. 

For starters, we can confirm that Intel’s demo used a Hailea HC-1000B water chiller, which is what allowed Intel to maintain operable temperatures with their 28-core overclocked setup. It appears that this demo was more of a “hey look what we can do” kinda demo, rather than something that consumers can be expected to achieve. 

Looking at the demo unit below we can see that a lot of Intel’s Gigabyte-based test system was insulated to protect the system from condensation, further confirming that the PC was not being cooled using fluid at above ambient temperatures. This insane 28-core 5GHz system required an equally mad cooling system to operate.  
  

  

A closer look at Intels 28-core 5GHz system

(Image from Anandtech)

  
Looking closer at Gigabyte’s test system we can see two things. First, that Gigabyte’s test system is based on Intel’s LGA 3647 enterprise platform, and second, that the system required a mental power setup (look at how many power phases that motherboard has). 

The use of an LGA 3647 processor confirms that Intel’s 28-core uses the same silicon as a current or future 28-core XEON, likely Cascade Lake, and that Intel’s 28-core cannot release as a new X299 processor. Intel will need to release a new consumer-grade motherboard chipset to bring their insane 28-core processor to market. 

This platform’s XEON origins means one thing, this platform is going to be extremely expensive, with hex-channel memory and a huge/monolithic CPU die both adding to the production cost of such a high-core count setup. There is a reason why AMD’s EPYC and Threadripper CPUs use multiple dies and why Intel is investing in EMIB technology. 

A closer look at Intels 28-core 5GHz system

(Image from Anandtech)

While AMD’s Threadripper 2 CPUs will offer up to 32 processing cores, it is unlikely that Threadripper 2 would be able to catch up to the performance of Intel’s monstrously overclocked 28-core system, we must remember that AMD’s platform was tested on standard air cooling and can function on AMD’s existing X399 motherboard platform. 

AMD showcased what appeared to be consumer-grade air-cooled setup, while Intel showcases something that couldn’t be done without sub-ambient cooling and a hefty overclock. It is also worth noting that AMD’s Threadripper second generation processors will also release a full quarter before their Intel rivals, granting AMD another advantage over their competitor. 

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