Since the launch of Intel’s Third Generation Xeon Scalable Ice Lake processors in April, it was widely expected that the initial volumes of hardware would be going towards Intel’s biggest customers through their OEM partners. Users who want retail hardware would have to wait a while, although exactly how long was a bit of a mystery. The answer to this seems to be that Ice Lake Xeon hardware is now available at retail: both motherboards and a CPU or two.

Release Schedules vs General Availability

Typically with a server processor, it is announced at an odd time. The announcement date is usually a few months after the hardware has already started to be deployed at the large customers, such as the hyperscalers, but a few months before it gets offered to the wider market for casual purchases. This latter time, known as ‘General Availability’ (or simply GA), means that the wider market can essentially order something online or through an OEM sales representative without needing to have a pre-arranged sales contract in place and it arrives in the mail shortly after. The date of GA is usually an important milestone in confirming wider distribution and a ramp of the silicon in production.

The golden hope is that the period from server CPU launch to GA is next to zero. Some launches are like this – the day it gets launched and reviews are available, is the same day it goes on shelves. Other launches are the direct opposite – in order to save face, the launch is only when the hyperscalers are starting to deploy their hardware. We typically see this time frame for start-ups that are producing their first ever processors. It depends on how confident they are in the server CPU ramping up production, and/or generating scale straight away on the foundations of a solid ecosystem. This latter part is usually why it takes longer for processors with new sockets to come to market, while drop-in replacements can be quick.

With Intel’s Ice Lake Xeon Scalable, it was somewhat of an open question on when GA would come. The company had delayed the product several times, over a year, but at the start of 2021 was confident that it would be coming to market shortly. The announcement on April 6th coincided with an interview with Intel’s Lisa Spelman, who stated that the company had already shipped 200,000 CPUs at that point. The only question remaining was GA, to which we were told ‘soon’.

For users that want some of that Ice Lake Xeon action, you can now go buy the hardware needed. Newegg has one of the first commercial LGA4189 Ice Lake Xeon motherboards up for sale, the Supermicro MBD-X12SPA-TF-O. This single socket motherboard has all 16 memory slots for 4 TB support using the largest memory modules, has four M.2 PCIe 4.0 x4 slots, 10 gigabit Ethernet, IPMI, seven PCIe 4.0 slots (four x16, three x8), eight SATA ports, onboard Audio, and all in the Extended ATX form factor.

All of this can be yours for $699.99, and Newegg has it in stock.

On the processor side, it does not look like that Intel has designated many of the Ice Lake processors as ‘retail in box’. Most offerings are for OEM-equivalent versions, however the Xeon Gold 5320 is showing up on Newegg with a box number and in stock from a third party seller with a highly favourable rating. The Xeon Gold 5320 is a 26-core 10nm Ice Lake 185 W processor with a base frequency of 2.2 GHz and a turbo of 3.4 GHz. It supports 64 lanes of PCIe 4.0 and 8-channel DDR4-2933.

Newegg is awaiting stock for $1576, but the third party seller has it listed for $1761.82.

Many thanks to @momomo_us for highlighting these listings.

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  • AdrianBc - Sunday, June 20, 2021 - link

    Intel's cores are more capable only for tasks that are limited by floating-point multiplications, because Intel cores have a double number of FP multipliers.

    For anything else, AMD cores are much more capable, due to higher clock frequencies and much larger cache sizes.

    While the Intel memory controller can be better, you need to buy Xeon Gold 63xx or Platinum, because all the other cheaper models, like the Xeon 5320 mentioned in the article, have crippled memory controllers, with lower throughput than the AMD memory controllers.

    Because Intel has lowered the prices, there are 3 or 4 models of Ice Lake Server that are competitive with Epyc, e.g. Xeon Gold 6312U, which would be a good choice for the motherboard showed in the article. Nevertheless, even such models are a good choice only if you intend to use them for HPC tasks or for other tasks that can benefit from AVX-512.
    Reply
  • Kevin G - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - link

    Are we actually going to see a real targeted workstation chip out of Intel again? The Sky Lake generation got its own socket, LGA 2066 for that segment vs. LGA1155 for consumer vs LGA 3467 for server. Intel didn't have anything last year and nothing is seemingly lined up for this year in that narrow segment. As Intel's roadmap has been derailed, the workstation market has been ignored. X299 and C422 are four years old at this point and still technically current (though anyone looking at this platforms would be better off with an AMD alternative, highend consumer Intel or low end Intel server).

    Right now AMD has this market squared away with ThreadRipper and ThreadRipper Pro. They just need to roll out Zen3 based models which I thought would have been introduced at this years Computex. What is AMD waiting for?
    Reply
  • TomWomack - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - link

    I thought that the three single-processor Ice Lake SKUs (in particular the $1450 24-core 6312U) were intended for that market segment. Reply
  • Spunjji - Monday, June 21, 2021 - link

    I think AMD are waiting for the moment when they have more Zen 3 chiplets than they can sell into the product areas they're already selling them in - which may not be for a while, yet. Reply
  • Gache8598 - Monday, June 21, 2021 - link

    Isn't TR made from harvested EPYC parts? If yields are good, maybe there just aren't enough flawed Zen 3 EPYCs yet, like they don't seem to have enough flawed Ryzen 5s to sell any as Ryzen 3. Reply
  • Toadster - Friday, June 18, 2021 - link

    4 x M.2 NVMe with VROC would be awesome for some accelerated storage Reply
  • TomWomack - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - link

    I'm a little surprised at the apparent push for single-socket Ice Lake; if you like memory bandwidth you presumably like twice as much memory bandwidth even more, and generally the single-socket boards don't seem to be half the price of dual-socket ones. Reply
  • Wereweeb - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - link

    You're surprised by the fact that not everyone needs a dual-socket system? I'm surprised by your surprise. Reply
  • TomWomack - Saturday, June 19, 2021 - link

    Generally n/2 cores per socket costs a good deal less than half as much as n cores; if you want 40 cores you might well want two $1000 4316 chips rather than one $8100 8380 chip, if you wanted more than 40 cores in the system you needed dual-socket anyway. Reply
  • Yojimbo - Sunday, June 20, 2021 - link

    I'd think you wouldn't get an 8380 for a 1S system, you'd get, perhaps, an 8351N, which has 36 cores and costs $3000. Reply

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