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Intel's 56-Core Sapphire Rapids Tested: Faster Than 64-Core EPYC

Sapphire Rapids
(Image credit: Intel)

Without any doubt, Intel's 4th Generation Xeon Scalable 'Sapphire Rapids' server processors are among the highly anticipated products in 2022. The CPUs were delayed several times, and their specifications remain a mystery. But as Intel's partners are testing samples of the new processors, their benchmark results inevitably emerge in various databases. This time around, someone posted results from Intel's 56-core Xeon Platinum 8480+ processor to Primate Labs's Geekbench 5 database. 

As the name suggests, Intel's 56-core Xeon Platinum 8480+ with 112MB L2 cache and 105MB L3 cache belongs to the company's crème-de-la-crème server CPUs with all cores and features (AMX, AVX-512, CXL, DSA, etc.) enabled. Considering Intel's 3rd Gen Xeon Scalable nomenclature, we may be dealing with the new top-of-the-range SKU.  

The Xeon Platinum 8480+ supports HyperThreading and has a base frequency of 2.0 GHz, according to the Geekbench 5 database entry. The relatively low clocks of the Xeon Platinum 8480+ (down from 2.30GHz in the case of the 40-core Xeon Platinum 8380 CPU) are a bit surprising because it is made using Intel's 10nm Enhanced SuperFin fabrication technology that features advanced power delivery and is generally designed to enable high frequencies on CPUs with a high core count. Perhaps the new Sapphire Rapids processors feature very high turbo clocks, but unfortunately, we have no idea how high the Xeon Platinum 8480+ CPU can go in turbo mode. 

Primate Labs's Geekbench 5 is hardly the best benchmark for server CPUs (especially modern ones with various special-purpose accelerators). Still, it gives some clues about the integer, floating point, and multi-thread performance. Still, considering that we are dealing with pre-production hardware and firmware (Tyan's S5652AGM3NRE-2T LGA4677 motherboard was used), take the benchmark results with a grain of salt.

Xeon Platinum 8480+EPYC 7763EPYC 7773XThreadripper Pro 5995WXM1 UltraCore i9-12900KRyzen 9 5950X
General specifications56C, 2.0GHz - ?GHz, 112MB L3, 105MB L364C, 2.45 ~ 3.50GHz, 32MB L2, 256MB L364C, 2.20 ~ 3.50GHz, 32MB L2, 768MB L364C, 2.70 ~ 4.50GHz, 32MB L2, 256MB L316P, 4E, up to 3.22GHz, 48MB SLC8P, 8E, 3.20 ~ 5.10GHz, 30MB16C, 3.40 ~ 5.0 GHz, 64MBGeneral specifications
Single-Core | Integer639112911431305163218301435Single-Core | Integer
Single-Core | Float776143714481715192921891881Single-Core | Float
Single-Core | Crypto2069314231573839280360644089Single-Core | Crypto
Single-Core | Score752132213351555178021491702Single-Core | Score
Multi-Core | Integer36889254465017840600213322063116695Multi-Core | Integer
Multi-Core | Float39779246625094947800270482320518695Multi-Core | Float
Multi-Core | Crypto3764210527580405632743345174138145Multi-Core | Crypto
Multi-Core | Score37794244655080243546241472124216868Multi-Core | Score
Linkhttps://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/16285364https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/15865932https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/14494330https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/15806221https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/15872094https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/15911328https://browser.geekbench.com/v5/cpu/9506672Link

The performance of Intel's Xeon Platinum 8480+ 'Sapphire Rapids' processor in Geekbench 5 is a mixed bag: it wins in certain cases but loses badly in others.

The CPU is considerably behind AMD's 64-core EPYC processors (that also feature rather low base clocks) in single-thread workloads. Intel's Golden Cove microarchitecture (used by Sapphire Rapids and Alder Lake CPUs) has very good single-thread performance, so perhaps the reason why Xeon Platinum 8480+ performs so poorly is because the pre-production chip does not boost its clocks (i.e., appropriate modes are disabled).

In multi-core workloads, Intel's Xeon Platinum 8480+ shows its potential and outperforms AMD's 64-core EPYC 7763 processor. Meanwhile, it cannot beat AMD's 64-core EPYC 7773X CPU, which is armed with 3D V-Cache, as well as Ryzen Threadripper Pro 5995WX, which has considerably higher clocks. 

In general, Intel's 56-core Xeon Platinum 8480+ 'Sapphire Rapids' processor looks rather promising for pre-production hardware. It looks like, for now, Intel hasn't enabled boost clocks on samples of SPR CPUs for certain reasons, but what the 56-core/112-thread processor can do in multi-thread workloads at 2.0 GHz looks pretty impressive.

Anton Shilov
Freelance News Writer

Anton Shilov is a Freelance News Writer at Tom’s Hardware US. Over the past couple of decades, he has covered everything from CPUs and GPUs to supercomputers and from modern process technologies and latest fab tools to high-tech industry trends.

  • Hooda Thunkett
    I'm wondering how their multi-core results can be so much higher with 56 cores than Epyc at 64 cores if their single core results are so much lower? Can these cores run more than 2 threads each or something?
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    Hooda Thunkett said:
    I'm wondering how their multi-core results can be so much higher with 56 cores than Epyc at 64 cores if their single core results are so much lower? Can these cores run more than 2 threads each or something?
    Considering how much faster the 7763X is compared to the 7763 my guess is memory bandwidth. The SPR chip has 8 channel DDR5-4800. That gives it 307GB/sec bandwidth or 5.5GB/sec/core compared to 205GB/sec or 3.2GB/sec/core on the Epyc. With the inclusion of the 3D V-cache the 7763X is able to get around some of the bandwidth constraints seen in the 7763. Similar to how the Infinity Cache in the Radeon 6000 series helps reduce traffic on the VRAM bus so it can use a 256bit bus instead of a 384bit like nVidia.
    Reply
  • Makaveli
    useless benchmark however since nobody runs geekbench on a server.
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    Makaveli said:
    useless benchmark however since nobody runs geekbench on a server.
    That is absolutely correct. Geekbench by itself is a garbage metric but places still use it.
    Reply
  • TerryLaze
    Hooda Thunkett said:
    I'm wondering how their multi-core results can be so much higher with 56 cores than Epyc at 64 cores if their single core results are so much lower? Can these cores run more than 2 threads each or something?
    Looks like the xeon was locked at 2Ghz in both single and multi, while the epyc was running 3.5 in single but 2.5 in multi.
    Maybe the xeon is still an ES that doesn't have turbos implemented.

    If you divide the multi score of the xeon by 56 you get very close to the single core which would confirm that both where run at the same speed, while for the epyc it's way way off.
    Reply
  • JamesJones44
    Hooda Thunkett said:
    I'm wondering how their multi-core results can be so much higher with 56 cores than Epyc at 64 cores if their single core results are so much lower? Can these cores run more than 2 threads each or something?

    Since this is still a limited production test sample the boost parameters might not be correctly optimized yet. It could be turbo boost isn't kicking in for single core at all, but is functional for multicore actions. Until we know more about the specs of the CPU, there are a lot of possible reasons why this could happen.
    Reply
  • -Fran-
    This server SoC won't be fighting Milan (or Milan-X for that matter), but Turin and Turin-X (plus the other Zen4 variants). From what we're seeing here (crappy test; agreed, but a test none the less), it's going to be a bloodbath. Intel needed this CPU/SoC out in the wild yesterday.

    Regards.
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    -Fran- said:
    This server SoC won't be fighting Milan (or Milan-X for that matter), but Turin and Turin-X (plus the other Zen4 variants). From what we're seeing here (crappy test; agreed, but a test none the less), it's going to be a bloodbath. Intel needed this CPU/SoC out in the wild yesterday.

    Regards.
    Considering how ICL only got Intel to Rome they needed SPR released when Milan was released. SPR will still be at a RAM density disadvantage compared to Genoa since AMD is 12 channel vs Intel 8 channel.
    Reply
  • Mr_Bond007
    jeremyj_83 said:
    Considering how much faster the 7763X is compared to the 7763 my guess is memory bandwidth. The SPR chip has 8 channel DDR5-4800. That gives it 307GB/sec bandwidth or 5.5GB/sec/core compared to 205GB/sec or 3.2GB/sec/core on the Epyc. With the inclusion of the 3D V-cache the 7763X is able to get around some of the bandwidth constraints seen in the 7763. Similar to how the Infinity Cache in the Radeon 6000 series helps reduce traffic on the VRAM bus so it can use a 256bit bus instead of a 384bit like nVidia.
    More likely those results are a load of crap for the Intel or are for a dual socket system. The multicore performance is higher per core than for the single if only 56 cores in the system.
    Reply
  • jeremyj_83
    Mr_Bond007 said:
    More likely those results are a load of crap for the Intel or are for a dual socket system. The multicore performance is higher per core than for the single if only 56 cores in the system.
    You do realize that MT performance can be higher than the equivalent of just 56c due to these having SMT. That means there are 112 threads running and overall SMT can improve performance by about 20%.
    Reply