Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU production issues move to early 2023

Intel’s Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs experienced significant delays and there are a number of reasons why this is happening. Our good colleague, Igor Walzyk from Igor’s lab, has an outline of what went wrong and when the chips will actually be available.

Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU bugs, production problems, vulnerabilities among countless reasons to delay in 2023

The Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU lineup for servers was intended to launch and compete with AMD’s EPYC Milan CPUs. Since its announcement, AMD has launched Milan, Milan-X, and will launch Genoa in the coming months. While we were expecting Sapphire Rapids to be able to ship around the same time as Genoa, that doesn’t seem to be the case as the launch has been pushed back to early 2023.

With a total of 12 (!) steps, they haven’t covered themselves in glory either, and I don’t remember any project yet that needed a lot of steps before you could use it to some degree. This started with A0 and A1, then continued through B0, C0, C1, C2, D0, E0, E2, E3, E4 until now moving on to E5! The market launch was planned about 1.5 years ago and the plan was recently updated again.

So far, Intel customers and partners have assumed the chips will be available in the second half of 2022, but the inside information is now a bit more realistic. Intel has now announced a “launch window” for Sapphire Rapids (SPR) for calendar week 6-9 (February 6, 2023 to March 3, 2023), while delivery of the first shipment to selected recipients in 2022 is still scheduled in two phases. Calendar week 42 is predicted for smaller models (2S) and calendar week 45 for larger models (4 and 8S).

Via Igor مختبر Lab

According to Igor, at the moment Intel has a total of 12 Steppings for its Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs. There are A0, A1, B0, C0, C1, C2, D0, E0, E2, E3, E4 and the latest E5 step. The main reason there are so many steps is that the production of Sapphire Rapids was not groundbreaking and on the way, Intel ran into various problems.

One such issue is the vulnerability encountered in the previous slide iteration. While Intel has a new step in the way, some Intel customers have been reluctant to wait and order the affected chips but they also won’t use the affected part of the CPU so they remain unaffected by the vulnerability. There is also talk that Intel shipped lower-quality SKUs earlier while the supply is expected to ship in bulk later.

According to Igor Lab, according to internal documents, the latest Intel Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPU will be released between weeks 6-9 of 2023. That is between February 6, 2023 until March 3, 2023.

yes. And by giving more details about Sapphire, we are already increasing the number of SKUs for Sapphire Rapids. They started rising in the last quarter. So we have a number of those slopes.

The specific issue we highlighted was not affecting these metadata volumes, so it continues to rise. So we’ve taken out another bar, which I’ll say, for larger volume SKUs, and these will be bulk shipments in the second half of the year. So you’ll see us increase those and launch them. So we’re absolutely on the right track for that, and we feel like we’ve passed all the issues we had in bringing this product to market.

So we feel very comfortable with that. We then work closely – the emerald goes to the Sapphire platform. So we work closely with our customers to determine the timing there. The product looks healthy.

So we are on the right track. So this would be a ’23 product. Then Granite and Sierra Forest is a ’24 product. And just to remind everyone, this is a new major platform.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger (Q2 2022 Earnings Call)

We’ve also seen some early performance numbers for Sapphire Rapids Xeon CPUs and things aren’t looking great for Intel because they missed out on a major opportunity to compete against Milan. While the CPU chiplet design allows for higher ASP services, the imminent delay means that it will be clear that there will be some major and negative consequences of the rollback. Intel also highlighted the next generation of Emerald Rapids CPUs they expect to launch by 2023 and Granite Rapids chips by 2024, however, given the current delays, we can’t put much confidence in the numbers.

Intel Xeon SP families (initial):

family brand Skylake-SP Cascade Lake-SP / AP Copper Lake – SP Ice Lake-SP Sapphire Rapids Emerald Rapids Granite cliffs Diamond Rapids
Operation knot 14 nm + 14 nm++ 14 nm++ 10 nm + Intel 7 Intel 7 Intel 3 Intel 3?
Platform name Intel Borley Intel Borley Intel Cedar Island Intel Whitley Intel Eagle Stream Intel Eagle Stream Intel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
Intel Mountain Stream
Intel Birch Stream
basic architecture Skylake Lake Cascade Lake Cascade Sunny Cove Golden Cove Raptor Cove Redwood Cove? Lion Cove?
Improved IPC (vs. previous generation) 10% 0% 0% 20% 19% 8%? 35%? 39%?
MCP (Multi-Slide Package) SKU number yes number number yes yes TBD (maybe yes) TBD (maybe yes)
Plug LGA 3647 LGA 3647 LGA 4189 LGA 4189 LGA 4677 LGA 4677 to be announced later on to be announced later on
Max core count up to 28 up to 28 up to 28 up to 40 up to 56 up to 64? up to 120? Up to 144?
Maximum number of threads up to 56 up to 56 up to 56 up to 80 up to 112 up to 128? up to 240? Up to 288?
Max L3 cache 38.5 MB L3 38.5 MB L3 38.5 MB L3 60MB L3 105MB L3 120 MB L3? 240 MB L3? 288 MB L3?
vector engines AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-512 / FMA2 AVX-1024 / FMA3? AVX-1024 / FMA3?
Memory support DDR4-2666 6 channels DDR4-2933 6 channels Up to 6 channels DDR4-3200 Up to 8 channels DDR4-3200 Up to 8 channels DDR5-4800 Up to 8 channels DDR5-5600? Up to 12 channels DDR5-6400? Up to 12 channels DDR6-7200?
PCIe Gen support PCIe 3.0 (48 slots) PCIe 3.0 (48 slots) PCIe 3.0 (48 slots) PCIe 4.0 (64 slots) PCIe 5.0 (80 lanes) PCIe 5.0 (80 slots) PCIe 6.0 (128 lanes)? PCIe 6.0 (128 lanes)?
TDP Range (PL1) 140W – 205W 165W – 205W 150W-250W 105-270 W up to 350 watts Up to 375 watts? Up to 400 watts? Up to 425 watts?
3D Xpoint Optane DIMM Unavailable apache corridor Barlow Pass Barlow Pass raven lane raven lane? Donahue Pass? Donahue Pass?
Competition AMD EPYC Napoli 14nm AMD EPYC Rome 7nm AMD EPYC Rome 7nm AMD EPYC Milan 7nm + AMD EPYC Genoa ~5 nm AMD EPYC Bergamo AMD EPYC Turin AMD EPYC Venice
release 2017 2018 2020 2021 2022 2023? 2024? 2025?

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