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Ice Lake & Intel’s Struggle For Supremacy

Ice Lake & Intel’s Struggle For Supremacy

  • Intel’s latest offering leverages the 10nm process technology.

Recently, Intel launched its most advanced and highest performing processor for data centre — 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor. Codenamed Ice Lake, this processor can handle a range of workloads on the cloud, network, and intelligent edge. 

“Intel’s new 3rd Gen Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors deliver flexible architecture with built-in acceleration and advanced security capabilities that are essential in a world of workload diversification and growing complexity. Our robust ecosystem and broad portfolio of purpose-built solutions ensure customers can rapidly deploy Intel-based infrastructure optimised for the most demanding workloads,” said Prakash Mallya, VP and MD – Sales, Marketing and Communications Group, Intel India.

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Salient Features

Intel’s latest offering leverages the 10nm process technology. Ice Lake can deliver up to 40 cores per processor, 2.65 times faster than its predecessor. It supports 6TB system memory per socket, eight channels of DDR4-3200 memory per socket and 64 lanes of PCIe Gen4 per socket. 

  • As per Intel, Ice Lake is the only data centre CPU with a built-in AI acceleration, software optimisations, and turnkey solutions that makes it possible to leverage AI in every application from network to cloud and edge. The new optimisations in the processor deliver 74% faster AI performance compared to the prior generation.
  • Ice Lake combines new features such as Intel Total Memory Encryption and Intel Platform Firmware Resilience to address pressing data protection challenges. Total Memory Encryption ensures all memory accessed from the CPU, such as customer credentials, encryption keys, and other sensitive data, is encrypted. The Platform Firmware Resilience technology protects the server against firmware attacks using a built-in Intel MAX 10 FPGA.
  • Ice Lake has a built-in crypto acceleration that delivers breakthrough performance over a host of important cryptographic algorithms. It is beneficial for businesses that use encryption-intensive workloads. 
  • The 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable platform allows developers to optimise their applications using the oneAPI toolkit. The toolkit contains advanced compilers, libraries, and analysis and debugging tools to improve performance and AI and encryption capabilities.

How Will Ice Lake Help Intel?

The Ice Lake chip is designed for cloud computing data centre vendors. Intel claimed it has already shipped up to 200,000 test units. 

In March, AMD unveiled its data centre chip, the third generation EPYC, which the company then claimed could deliver two times better performance than Intel’s best CPUs.

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Compared to AMD’s EPYC (codenamed Milan), Ice Lake performs about 1.5 times better than the former. However, on the speed front, Ice Lake is slower than Milan, thanks to Taiwan-based TSMC’s better manufacturing technology for producing the 10nm chip, which AMD outsources; Intel, on the other hand, has been doing the manufacturing in-house.

“Nobody else in the industry has the intersection of (intellectual property), architecture, design and manufacturing. We think that’s a particularly important differentiator for the company at a time when demand is exploding and supply is short,” Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the data platforms group at Intel said in an.

In an earlier interview, Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the data platforms group at Intel, said the architecture, design, and manufacturing capabilities offered by the chipmaker is unmatched. This is particularly important since there is a huge chip demand-supply gap globally, he added.
Intel, for the longest time, was the leading player in the chip industry. Its data centre business, in particular, was considered ‘bulletproof’. However, recent trends signalled its dwindling position in the market. Until very recently, Intel was building its server chips on the 14nm technology, while AMD and Arm moved to 7nm processors. Manufacturing glitches, product delays, and leadership changes threatened Intel’s position in the market. However, with Ice Lake, Intel hopes to give a tough competition to rivals AMD and NVIDIA.

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