Intel Skylake-EP processor spotted with 32 cores
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Intel is expected to launch its new Purley server platform with Skylake-EP and Skylake-EX processors by mid 2017. According to existing roadmaps, the number of cores per CPU will be expanded to a maximum of 28.
A recent engineering sample, however, allegedly shows the upcoming 2.1 GHz Xeon E5-2699 v5 server processor with as much as 32 cores for a total of 64 parallel threads. The processor was found at a Chinese Taoboa auction house and was shown with both an LGA-3647 Purley socket and a hexa-channel memory interface alongside support for Intel's Octane DIMMs. If true, this would be a first for an Intel server-class processor.
The increase in core count from the previously planned 28 to as much as 32 could be due to future competition from AMD's Zen-based Opterons (Naples) platform. AMD's future server solutions are expected to have 32 cores per processor at up to 64 threads total with an octa-channel memory interface.
Another interesting aspect to keep in mind is that the Intel E5 CPUs are essentially a trimmed down E7 series. The current Broadwell-EP and -EX processors consist of four clusters of six cores each with two ring buses connecting the clusters. This limits the processor to 24 cores, but a 32-core processor like the E5-2699 v5 could have eight cores per cluster instead for a total of 32. If the trend continues, then a future E7 CPU could have nine or even ten cores per cluster for a total of 36 or 40. This is, however, only speculation based on the unconfirmed E5 rumor.