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Intel Xeon Platinum 8176 Scalable Processor Review

Rebranding Xeon

Previously, Intel split its Xeon SKUs into the E5 and E7 families. But as part of an initiative to provide one platform for all needs, the company combined disparate line-ups into one unified Scalable Processor stack. The new philosophy also carries over to the launch cadence; all 2P, 4P, and 8P models are being introduced at the same time, rather than in segments. We do appreciate the consolidation, even if this means covering 58 CPU models simultaneously. Then again, we're actually looking at fewer SKUs than what you found previously in the old E5 and E7 portfolios.

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This generation is broken up into Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze categories, addressing the mainstream, power-efficient, and entry-level markets. In the past, Intel drew its line between the Brickland platform for Xeon E7 models and Grantley-EP for the E5 SKUs. Today's Skylake-based CPUs all centralize on the same Purley platform, employing one socket interface and chipset foundation. Intel will carry the new line-up into the Cascade Lake era, as well. 

Intel achieves segmentation through several variables, including core count, base frequencies, PCIe connectivity, memory capacity/data rates, AVX-512 functionality, Hyper-Threading, UPI connections, and FMA units per core. In other words, you pay every penny for every single feature you get.

For instance, many models only have one FMA floating-point engine per core, while others have two. Intel sub-divides its Gold series, designed for two- and four-socket servers, into the 61xx and 51xx processors. The latter sports fewer cores, UPI links, restricted memory support, and only one FMA per core. The Bronze series lacks Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost; getting those features requires stepping up to the Silver series.

The naming sequence starts at 3xxx and ends with 8xxx, skipping the 7xxx series already reserved for Intel's Xeon Phi products. Power-wise, these host processors range from 70W to 250W. An "F" modifier indicates fabric-equipped models that support Omni-Path. There isn't an official time frame yet, but we'll soon see "P" models representing Programmable FPGA-equipped Xeons.

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Intel notes that it designed these CPUs with security, performance, and agility/orchestration in mind. The final three slides list the features added over the years to improve those areas of focus.


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Paul Alcorn

Paul Alcorn is the Deputy Managing Editor for Tom's Hardware US. He writes news and reviews on CPUs, storage and enterprise hardware.