Intel Lifts the Curtain on ‘Sapphire Rapids’ Workstation Processors

February 16, 2023 by Hannah DeTavis

For years, Intel has been steadily upping the core count for its desktop processors. Now, the company is following suit with its high-end workstation processors.

This week, Intel unveiled a significant revamp of its two premium processor lineups for workstations: the Intel Xeon W-3400 and Intel Xeon W-2400. Designed specifically for engineering, media, and data science professionals, the processors (previously code-named Sapphire Rapids) are said to bring more CPU cores, PCIe lanes, and memory bandwidth to high-performance desktop workstations. At the heart of these two new processors is the Intel Xeon W9-3495X, the company’s so-called “most powerful desktop workstation processor ever designed.” 


Xeon workstation processor

Xeon workstation processor


Packing up to 56 cores and 112 PCIe 5.0 lanes, the new CPUs are Intel’s fastest workstation processors to date. Below are some of the key features to expect from the Xeon W-3400 and Xeon W-2400.


Intel Targets High Performance With New Xeon CPUs

Three of the major hallmarks of the new workstation processors include Intel’s Golden Cove CPU architecture, added support for DDR5 memory, and PCIe5 and Wi-Fi 6E for I/O connectivity. Intel intends for the two new CPUs to be paired with its W790 chipset for high-performance computing and expanded peripherals—including graphics accelerators, network cards, and large-volume storage arrays. 


Driving Up Cores With a Multi-die Architecture

To ramp up the core count of the Xeon W SKUs, Intel employed a multi-die architecture, specifically Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge (EMIB) technology, to connect numerous heterogeneous die in one solution. Intel claims this structure enables up to 56 cores in a single socket while relieving the pressure of processing bottlenecks.


Xeon W-3400 platform block diagram. 

Xeon W-3400 platform block diagram


The CPUs use Intel’s Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0 to achieve speeds of up to 4.8 GHz, and the devices offer up to 105 MB of “Smart Cache” to cut latency in complex workloads. 


Support for DDR5

Both the Xeon W-3400 and Xeon W-2400 include support for eight channels of DDR5 RDIMM memory at 4800 MT/s. This feature, Intel says, will help protect system reliability and data integrity. The devices’ 4 TB of memory also supports faster speed, power efficiency, and higher bandwidth.


Xeon W-2400 platform block diagram. 

Xeon W-2400 platform block diagram.


The company added an L2 Cache and L3 Shared Intel Smart Cache, amounting to ​​up to 105 MB, to slash time spent swapping data between cache and memory. The W790 chipset also offers up to 16 PCIe Gen 4.0 lanes for fast access to additional SSD storage for users’ most frequently used reference files.


Boosting I/O Connectivity

Another key feature of the upgraded Xeon workstation processors is their support for up to 112 PCIe Gen 5.0 lanes for Xeon W-3400 processors and 64 PCIe Gen 5.0 lanes for Xeon W-2400 processors. These lane counts give developers the flexibility to find an appropriate combination of hardware accelerators like SSDs, multi-GPUs, and network cards for any given application.


Flexible architecture of the new Xeon CPUs. 

Flexible architecture of the new Xeon CPUs


PCIe5 offers up to 224 GT/s, yielding quick access to peripheral devices. The CPUs also provide up to 5x USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 ports for additional configuration flexibility. Wi-Fi6E support allows the devices to connect to Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds.


Options for Varying Computing Needs

The performance differences between the W-3400 and W-2400 chip lines (56 cores vs. 24, respectively) make the W-2400 a more feasible option for individuals with high-performance needs, while the W-3400 is better suited for entire businesses requiring complex computing. 



All images courtesy of Intel