Even though Intel Corp. has been gradually increasing the number of general-purpose processing engines inside its microprocessors for servers, the company’s high-end chips for client PCs feature no more than eight x86 cores, whereas mainstream central processing units sport up to four cores. Apparently, Intel has no plans to change anything in the coming years as the company’s forthcoming “Cannonlake-E/EP” CPUs for high-end desktops and workstations will integrate up to eight cores.
An undisclosed Intel engineer from Hillsboro, Oregon, disclosed in his LinkedIn profile that over the past two months he or she has been working on Intel’s “cache coherence protocols and high-speed fabrics” for Intel “Cannonlake” system-on-chip with four to eight cores and “converged coherent fabric”, according to a finding by Fool.com. Intel calls major internal interconnects (e.g., ring bus, last-level cache, eDRAM cache, memory) as “coherent fabric”. The profile has either been removed or altered by its owner by now.
Intel develops numerous versions of its processor silicon for different applications. For example, there are two separate versions of desktop and notebook chips with two or four cores. For high-end desktop, workstation and server CPUs Intel designs several versions of silicon with different configurations with low core count, medium core count and high core count. For example, the “Haswell” family of chips for servers, high-end desktops and workstations includes three configs: LCC with four to eight cores, MCC with 10 to 12 cores and HCC with 14 to 18 cores.
As it appears, Intel’s Core i7 Extreme “Cannonlake-E” and select Intel Xeon “Cannonlake-EP” central processing units in LCC configurations will continue to feature up to eight cores, just like Core i7 “Haswell-E” and Xeon E5 “Haswell-EP” do today. Workstations that require more cores will have to use higher-end Xeon “Cannonlake-EP” chips with medium core count (MCC). The Intel Xeon “Cannonlake-EX” will rely on silicon with high core count (HCC), which will likely exceed 32 cores.
Increased core count requires Intel to re-architect internal interconnections and memory controllers, which makes increase of core-count a very complex task. Moreover, client applications do not really need six or eight cores, but benefit from improved graphics processing units, which actually account for a larger portion of a modern CPU die than x86 cores.
Intel’s code-named “Cannonlake” central processing units will be made using 10nm process technology. Client versions of “Cannonlake” CPUs with integrated graphics are due in 2017. Advanced versions of the 10nm chips with increased amount of x86 cores – “Cannonlake-E”, “Cannonlake-EP” and “Cannonlake-EX” are due in 2018 or later.
Intel’s future Xeon “Skylake-EX” and “Skylake-EP” microprocessors with up to 28 cores will feature six-channel memory sub-systems and will use the all-new “Purley” platform. The forthcoming “Cannonlake” chips for servers are expected to be drop-in compatible with the “Purley” platform as well.
Intel did not comment on the news-story.
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KitGuru Says: Many people would love the upcoming unlocked enthusiast class Core i7-8700K “Cannonlake” central processing units to have more than four physical cores. Unfortunately, it does not look like it is going to happen. In fact, even next-generation high-end desktop chips will feature no more than eight cores.