Intel Xeon Workstation Chip Announcement
by Daniel Newman | February 22, 2023

The Six Five team discusses Intel’s Xeon Workstation chip announcement.

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Patrick Moorhead: Yeah, totally. Hey, let’s move to the next chip chippery. Intel announced a new workstation chip. And I guess the first thing I’ll say is get a little context is workstations are used for design. They’re used by programmers. A lot of 3D magic that you see pretty much everywhere is driven by a workstation. Workstation market also has certified software, right? Let’s say like DeSo or something like that, that it’s not like a PC market, where everything isn’t expected to run. These are so intertwined into the hardware that they have to be certified.

I think the big news here is this was the latest version of Xeon getting integrated into the workstation line. Every company has choices. Processor companies have choices on how they can attack the market, and Intel really has a dual-pronged approach, which is hit it with a Xeon type of architecture for the highest performance, the highest bandwidth, and then hit it with core architecture more likely on workloads that aren’t certified and don’t need the massive amount of IO, RDEM, ECC memory, and things like that.

I think the biggest differentiator about these new platforms is really IO. I mean, and a gigantic amount of L3 cache, which really helps to get optimal performance for those highest performance workloads. I think in this case less on core count because quite frankly I think AMD, and for that matter, Ampere, will bring more cores, but I think this is about IO and bandwidth. What I’m super interested to see is how some of Intel’s integrated AI features like AMX and bfloat16 by a deep learning boost get used by ISVs out there. Because this is an area, as we both know, whether it’s on chip or off chip AI, as long as it’s integrated into the…closely coupled into the processor can really do some great stuff.

Daniel Newman: You hit a lot of it, Pat. TI guess there’s two things Intel’s competing with. Intel’s competing with the other names you mentioned, the AMDs and Amperes, but they’re also competing with themselves, and by themselves, it’s like every generation needs to show meaningful improvements and be driving reasons to their customers to upgrade their workstations. You know? Right now you’re battling cycles, you’re battling companies that are slowing down their purchasing cycles. You’re battling companies that are hiring less people, less programmers, less developers. Having said that, a lot of those key functions and companies continue to be important, despite other maybe lesser important, and roles that are harder to define being minimized and bigger companies. So developers still have a big role to play. I think I, it’s worth double clicking on what you said about the accelerator strategy because that is a big part of the AI story. You know?

You’re seeing a continuum of AI on chip to AI through software and Intel’s really leaning into software here. Seeing how that actually drives better performance from the workstations is going to be something that the market’s going to want to keep its eye on. Of course, its users. As workstations aren’t quite gaming, but there is a bit of a cult of these kinds of devices where you want the people using them to swear by them and to become my workstation is better than your workstation types. It’s just what’s going on. You know?

The specs look promising. The biggest thing I noticed though is the significant generation to generation improvement, which is what the company’s really touting. Not to say they’re not going to want to compete with AMD and others, but the real guesstimate for me is that people who are already running on Intel workstations will carry over and be looking for their next Intel workstation. Not sure if there’s enough here to get the brand switch to drive a switch from one brand to another. Of course, that’s what all the companies are doing is fighting for market share.

The last thing of course, when I say competing with itself, it’s got an aggressive timeline here, Pat. It’s saying pre-order February 15th and availability beginning in March. I promise you everybody in the world is going to be looking to see if those things start shipping in March cause that’s what Intel’s up against. But promising incremental improvements here.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. You know? AMD has done a really good job with its Thread Ripper Pro and that’s what this aligns with. And Thread Ripper Pro is based on a server part as well. And in fact, when I was at AMD, we came out with the first server-based workstation part called the Athlon FX and it’s kind of been a staple the whole time.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Chief Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio