DIY on Intel Ice Lake Xeon Just Got A Little Closerby Dr. Ian Cutress on June 18, 2021 9:51 AM EST
Since the launch of Intel’s Third Generation Xeon Scalable Ice Lake processors in April, it was widely expected that the initial volumes of hardware would be going towards Intel’s biggest customers through their OEM partners. Users who want retail hardware would have to wait a while, although exactly how long was a bit of a mystery. The answer to this seems to be that Ice Lake Xeon hardware is now available at retail: both motherboards and a CPU or two.
Release Schedules vs General Availability
Typically with a server processor, it is announced at an odd time. The announcement date is usually a few months after the hardware has already started to be deployed at the large customers, such as the hyperscalers, but a few months before it gets offered to the wider market for casual purchases. This latter time, known as ‘General Availability’ (or simply GA), means that the wider market can essentially order something online or through an OEM sales representative without needing to have a pre-arranged sales contract in place and it arrives in the mail shortly after. The date of GA is usually an important milestone in confirming wider distribution and a ramp of the silicon in production.
The golden hope is that the period from server CPU launch to GA is next to zero. Some launches are like this – the day it gets launched and reviews are available, is the same day it goes on shelves. Other launches are the direct opposite – in order to save face, the launch is only when the hyperscalers are starting to deploy their hardware. We typically see this time frame for start-ups that are producing their first ever processors. It depends on how confident they are in the server CPU ramping up production, and/or generating scale straight away on the foundations of a solid ecosystem. This latter part is usually why it takes longer for processors with new sockets to come to market, while drop-in replacements can be quick.
With Intel’s Ice Lake Xeon Scalable, it was somewhat of an open question on when GA would come. The company had delayed the product several times, over a year, but at the start of 2021 was confident that it would be coming to market shortly. The announcement on April 6th coincided with an interview with Intel’s Lisa Spelman, who stated that the company had already shipped 200,000 CPUs at that point. The only question remaining was GA, to which we were told ‘soon’.
For users that want some of that Ice Lake Xeon action, you can now go buy the hardware needed. Newegg has one of the first commercial LGA4189 Ice Lake Xeon motherboards up for sale, the Supermicro MBD-X12SPA-TF-O. This single socket motherboard has all 16 memory slots for 4 TB support using the largest memory modules, has four M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slots, 10 gigabit Ethernet, IPMI, seven PCIe 4.0 slots (four x16, three x8), eight SATA ports, onboard Audio, and all in the Extended ATX form factor.
All of this can be yours for $699.99, and Newegg has it in stock.
On the processor side, it does not look like that Intel has designated many of the Ice Lake processors as ‘retail in box’. Most offerings are for OEM-equivalent versions, however the Xeon Gold 5320 is showing up on Newegg with a box number and in stock from a third party seller with a highly favourable rating. The Xeon Gold 5320 is a 26-core 10nm Ice Lake 185 W processor with a base frequency of 2.2 GHz and a turbo of 3.4 GHz. It supports 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and 8-channel DDR4-2933.
Newegg is awaiting stock for $1576, but the third party seller has it listed for $1761.82.
Many thanks to @momomo_us for highlighting these listings.
- Intel 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable (Ice Lake SP) Review: Generationally Big, Competitively Small
- GIGABYTE Server: Three New E-ATX Motherboards For Intel Ice Lake-SP Xeons
- Supermicro: We Put Two 10nm Ice Lake Xeon LGA4189 Sockets on an ATX Motherboard
- Intel Confirms 10nm Ice Lake Xeon Production Has Started
- Hot Chips 2020 Live Blog: Next Gen Intel Xeon, Ice Lake-SP (9:30am PT)
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twotwotwo - Friday, June 18, 2021 - linkWhoa, so...the 3955WX/3960X range got a little more interesting? I wouldn't pick this, but it's not Skylake!
Mikewind Dale - Friday, June 18, 2021 - linkMore of a competitor for EPYC, not ThreadRipper / ThreadRipper Pro. The Ice Lake Xeons are all 3.x GHZ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Ice_La...
This will be good for a server that requires parallelization but not high single-thread performance - similar to EPYC.
But someone who needs not only parallelization, but also single-threaded performance will buy a 4.x GHz ThreadRipper / ThreadRipper Pro, not an EPYC, and not this.
Samus - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - linkImagine if AMD were not where they are now, this kit would be costing twice as much.
lemurbutton - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - linkImagine if Intel isn't where it is now, Threadrippers would cost twice as much as...
oh wait, we need Intel to be competitive too because AMD can/will drastically increase prices.
Samus - Sunday, June 20, 2021 - linklemurbutton, you are missing the point. AMD is the underdog and a fraction of Intel's size. The competitive position (or lack thereof) Intel finds itself in is utterly embarrassing and could only happen after 6 continuous years of manufacturing advancement failures. The company has been through nearly as many CEO's in that time, and reminds my of the Mark Hurd fiasco HP (though HP was actually performing well when they dumped him) and went through a number of CEO's in a few years from Cathie Lesjak to the disastrous Léo Apotheker who is legendary for saying "smartphones are not the future" and decided to dissolve Palm and sell into LG's IP portfolio, who was promptly fired and replaced by Meg Whitman.
Revolving-door CEO turnover is extremely volatile to a company as large as Intel or HP, as they have a lot of initial power to make dangerous business decisions (thousands of historical examples of freshman CEO's, experienced or not, architecting monolithic transactions, buyouts, mergers or product portfolio changes which tank - or nearly tank - the enterprise)
whatthe123 - Sunday, June 20, 2021 - linkit's hardly a revolving door. if anything intel's board were too stupid and lazy to get rid of Krzanich even when he'd constantly lie about the progress their fabs were making and set completely insane timelines and density targets. hell they didn't even fire him for incompetence, they fired him for having an affair within the company.
Swan was always meant to be an interim CEO, it's not like they tossed him out, he was never meant to be in the seat and managed the company until they found a long term replacement.
Oxford Guy - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - linkIf you’re winning strongly no one knows about the scandalous behavior. If you’re expendable it suddenly becomes salient.
Spunjji - Monday, June 21, 2021 - linkYou're right, but Intel still hold most of the cards for setting prices - even when they're not competitive on performance. They've never attempted to significantly undercut AMD in desktop and server processors even when they've had an inferior product (see: Rocket Lake) because they still have an overwhelming advantage in volume and market penetration. The one time I recall them really pushing hard on cost was with the contra revenue scheme for Atom where they basically paid people to take them.
Oxford Guy - Tuesday, June 22, 2021 - linkImagine having high-quality of competition in tech rather than a series of duopolies.
TomWomack - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - linkThis is still a bit more expensive than AMD charges for 24 cores and an 8-channel memory controller, though Intel is giving you more capable cores and a significantly lower latency 8-channel memory controller for your extra $200.