Computers

Prices Leak for Intel’s Monster 28-Core Xeon W-3175X CPU

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Last year at Computex, Intel debuted an overclocked 5GHz 28-core Xeon CPU. It was always obvious that the CPU was more of a demonstration model than an actual shipping product — the 1.2kW cooler that Intel had to use to hit those kinds of clock speeds was a sign that 5GHz was a bit out of the conventional operating frequency range for this CPU. Nonetheless, Santa Clara did state that the chip would come to market as the Xeon W-3175X. Now, thanks to leaks from multiple European retailers, we know what price Intel is targeting.

According to Hot Hardware, multiple European retailers are listing the CPU for between €4,045 and €4,525. It’s not clear how precisely this would map to US prices since it includes VAT, but it wouldn’t be unusual for Intel to simply swap the € and the $. The Xeon W-3175X uses the LGA3647 socket, with 12 DIMM slots and six memory channels (DDR4-2666 supported). Its base clock is 3.1GHz with a 4.3GHz boost clock and a 255W TDP (remember, all Intel TDPs are derived solely from base clock frequencies). This CPU does not use solder according to Tom’s Hardware, which will almost certainly impact overclocking efforts (and overclocking the chip could require two power supplies, not just one).

Intel-9th-Gen-Skylake-X-Core-CPU_2

The funny thing is that, by Intel standards, $4,000 – $5,000 for this CPU would be something of a steal. The 18-core Core i9-9980XE is a $1,979 CPU with a max boost clock of 4.5GHz, and while charging 2x or more for a 1.55x increase in core count isn’t exactly appealing, it’s not a terrible premium relative to the way this kind of feature is typically priced. The enterprise-oriented Xeon Scalable Platinum 8180 features the same silicon as the Xeon W-3175X but has a $10,000 price tag and a 2.5GHz/3.8GHz frequency spread. Of course, all of this is by Intel’s standards — AMD’s Threadripper offers an objectively better price/performance ratio in many instances compared with Intel’s Core X/Xeon W lines, though this has had remarkably little impact on Intel’s per-core pricingSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce over the past 18 months.

Intel isn’t even pretending that this CPU is aimed at gamers; the Xeon W-3175X is a content creation chip, through and through. That said, even for content creators, this is going to be a lot of CPU, particularly when its power requirements are taken into account. The 3175X is, in a sense, the swan song for monolithic die manufacturing as a whole. With both Intel and AMD moving to chiplet-style designs (Intel’s Cascade Lake AP will offer up to 48 cores, Epyc 2 will pack up to 64), the era of using monolithic chips at the highest core counts is coming to an end. That’s not to say that AMD and Intel will simply convert to chiplets across the board immediately — we expect both companies to optimize their dies and manufacturing approaches where it makes sense to do so and it may be that they pursue different strategies to some extent — but the era of monolithic dies dominating this space will be over in a year.

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