Intel to launch Sapphire Rapids on January 10, more details on paid software-based Xeon...

Daniel Sims

Posts: 755   +29
Staff
In brief: Intel's 4th generation Xeon data center processors are finally approaching public release three years after the company initially announced them. More hints about arguably the new series' most controversial feature have also emerged but important questions remain.

Intel will hold a launch event for its next-generation Xeon data center CPUs on January 10. Around the same time as Intel's confirmation this week, a Linux kernel update has shed some light on a planned system for à la carte processor hardware features.

Since Intel first announced Sapphire Rapids in 2019, leaks and software updates have revealed much about the upcoming CPU line. It will run on 56 cores and 112 threads with a maximum TDP of 360 watts. BIOS information suggests the TDP could reach as high as 764W to accommodate things like AVX-512 workloads. Some models will include 64GB of in-package HBM2e memory functioning as an L4 cache.

Another unique detail is that Intel plans to sell some Xeon processors at lower prices, locking some hardware features behind paid software gates. Theoretically, Intel could offer the option as a cheaper alternative to upgrading the CPU itself.

So far, Intel only appears to be planning to implement the idea on Linux, and Linux software updates are the primary source for early information about it. Referred to as "Intel Software Defined Silicon" in patch notes from last September, a new Linux kernel update renamed the feature "Intel On Demand." Otherwise, Intel still describes it as a system where users purchase authentication certificates to unlock hardware features.

The company hasn't said which hardware features it might lock behind software licenses. However, one Intel On Demand feature is a "meter certificate" that checks usage data for purchased hardware functions. It could be a tool to help users gauge how much they're getting for their money from each authentication certificate.

Sapphire Rapids will compete with AMD's upcoming "Genoa" series of Epyc processors. The company will hold an event to fully reveal the series on November 10 at 1 p.m. Eastern. We know it features chiplets with up to 96 cores, 192 threads, and a 360W TDP. Genoa is based on the same Zen 4 CPU architecture as the Ryzen 7000 processors AMD recently launched, as well as TSMC's 5nm node.

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human7

Posts: 152   +131
It sounds to me like Intel is able to make large quantities of top quality chips at great yields, but doesn't have enough customers who are willing to buy the chips at the prices they would typically sell them for. Otherwise, Intel wouldn't bother with this: they'd just sell the hardware at full price.

So, to compromise, Intel is willing to sell them for cheaper, but is going to lock some features behind a paywall. If the implementation is as I suspect, this means some customers could get access to more cores/threads than they would otherwise have at cheaper prices, but the customers that need the locked features can pay more (what they would normally) for them.

In other words, it could make sense. But it depends greatly on what is being locked behind a paywall, how the certificate system works, if it is a subscription or one-time upgrade, what security implications there are, etc.

It could also be a way for customers who don't know how many cores/threads they need to buy a chip and then upgrade if need be with a simple switch. But, that sounds more like a cloud solution, not an on-prem one.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,285   +8,432
So basically, these are CPUs with a built-in NFT.?

I'd add up the cost of the buy ins, and if it were more that the price of the stock, full featured, unlocked version, just suck it up, and pay full pop at the outset.

Basically, let the company credit card (*) charge me for the, "optional at extra cost", feature set..

(*) Although only god knows what credit card interest rates will be at the time of purchase..
 

Tantor

Posts: 390   +660
I believe that Intel's 13th gen actually costs a lot more than they let on. They are selling at a loss to gain market share.

Funny how so many reviewers slammed AMD for the expense of AM5, despite Ryzen 7 costing about the same as Ryzen 5 at rollout. Nowhere was there any comment on the possibility that Intel is underwriting their own products. Something Intel is notorious for.

The subscription CPU is typical of Intel's marketing mentality. There's something truly repulsive about it. The thing you buy doesn't really belong to you, they can shut it off anytime. It's a form of slavery, you will own nothing.

I always buy AMD.
 

DSirius

Posts: 380   +798
TechSpot Elite
This is quite a bold prediction. So bold in fact, I screen capped it, and bookmarked this thread.

How about if we talk about it next November?
Intel tried something like this in the past but the customers reaction was so strong that they had to let it go.
With a strong competition from AMD on servers I hope that this Intel new "business" model to fail.
Otherwise the second step for Intel will be to charge customers monthly to use their "unlocked" hardware.:facepalm:
 

Skjorn

Posts: 740   +609
Intel tried something like this in the past but the customers reaction was so strong that they had to let it go.
With a strong competition from AMD on servers I hope that this Intel new "business" model to fail.
Otherwise the second step for Intel will be to charge customers monthly to use their "unlocked" hardware.:facepalm:
You're so confident in that why don't you bet on it? Buy some options.
 

letsgoiowa

Posts: 115   +218
Someone pointed out that being able to unlock more cores/features is probably better than the hardware being lasered off like it currently is. This theory has a few holes in it: yield isn't 100% so defects may exist and MCM CPUs like the Ryzen series would need the extra cost of another functional CCD.
I don't see much use for this as a consumer. It's more interesting for enterprise where downtime and maintenance cost a LOT of money--probably more than it would cost to pay for a license upgrade and reboot. Pretty sure they actually asked for this.
 

wiyosaya

Posts: 8,410   +7,845
I cannot see the open-source community - I.E., Linux, embracing this whole-heartedly. Most companies that use Linux for something use it because of the price - $0 and Intel getting people used to this model to embrace their "for a few dollars more" you can have even more threads to run your FREE OS. 🤣

:rolleyes: Intel will be Intel. Squeezing their customers is SOP for them.
 

captaincranky

Posts: 19,285   +8,432
Most companies that use Linux for something use it because of the price - $0
and Intel getting people used to this model to embrace their "for a few dollars more" you can have even more threads to run your FREE OS. 🤣
Well, that's not completely true. Take Red Hat Linux for example. They have a free tier, (which I've never been able to have work), and a paid support version. IDK how prevalent Red hat is, so I can't say if it's an aberration or common place.

Is the Apache server software free?