We caught up with Gigabyte at the show to get a closer look at its new motherboard that supports Intel's 28-core processor. We also grabbed pics of the internals of Intel's test system. We're headed to AMD's press conference shortly, so we'll update this article with more specifics later in the day. For now, feast your eyes on Gigabyte's new motherboard.
Intel's Computex presentation surprisingly included an apparently overclocked 28-core processor at an impressive 5.0 GHz, but as per usual for a tradeshow demo, the company didn't share many details. We know that AMD is releasing a new Threadripper 2 model here at the Computex, purportedly with 32 cores, and Intel's announcement that it will ship a 28-core model this year is clearly designed to steal some of AMD's thunder before its announcement.
But Intel's demo didn't tell the full story. Many in the press mistakenly assumed the new processor runs at 5.0 GHz at stock settings, but we carefully analyzed video from the event and spotted a few obvious signs that the processor was overclocked. Intel apparently was running some sort of closed-loop cooling that required insulating material around the tubing. This turns out to be a water chiller that was hidden under the table. We also spot more shielding over the long rectangular waterblock and what appears to be six sticks of RAM flanking the processor on each side. We theorized that this platform is based on the (until now) enterprise-class LGA3647 socket, and that has proven to be true. This means the processor could be a variant of the $8,700 Xeon Platinum Scalable processor we reviewed here, albeit with an unlocked multiplier.
Intel's new 28-core processor is very likely similar to the Xeon Platinum 8180. This processor lands with a $10,000 MSRP for data center users, and given its target market, it doesn't come with an unlocked multiplier. Releasing an enterprise model with an unlocked multiplier to the general market is a tricky proposition for Intel, as data center and high performance computing users will jump on the unlocked models, thus plundering sales of high-margin Xeon models. As such, we can expect Intel will charge a hefty premium for its new 28-core models and employ some type of defeaturing, such as removing AVX-512, ECC, and multi-socket support to discourage the practice.
Intel processors have much higher frequency headroom than AMD's processors, both at stock settings and after overclocking. The 5.0 GHz overclock makes Intel's new processor all the more impressive compared to AMD's relatively tame clock speeds. However, Intel's large monolithic die features a cohesive mesh interconnect, while AMD's Threadripper processors have a distributed MCM design that connects via the Infinity Fabric. AMD's implementation can suffer from reduced performance in games and some applications, and although the company does offer several parameters that users can tweak to reduce the impact. In either case, Intel's enthusiast-class processors generally lead competing AMD models in lightly threaded games and applications.