Intel Mostly Cancels Cooper Lake: Is This Good News for 10nm?


Intel has confirmed that it won’t be launching the full line-up of Cooper Lake CPUs it had previously expected to deploy. As a reminder, Cooper Lake was the 14nm CPU expected to introduce Intel’s support for bfloat16, a new floating-point standard intended to be more useful for AI and machine learning calculations than the old FP16 standard.

As originally planned, Cooper Lake was going to drop near the end of 2019 before being replaced by a 2020 Ice Lake part. Cooper Lake would feature second-generation Intel DLBoost and share a common platform with Ice Lake. Now, however, it looks like the single and dual-socket versions of Cooper have been canceled as broken by SemiAccurate and confirmed to ServeTheHome. Cooper Lake will still deploy, but it’s going to be reserved for quad sockets and above.

This move makes sense for a few reasons. First, Intel just slashed prices on Cascade Lake Xeons and refreshed the entire family in the process. Second, given the sizeable economic uncertainty now ricocheting around the globe, companies may not be planning the aggressive server ramps they previously were. Third, the customers most likely to be interested in Intel features like DLBoost and bfloat16, are going to be large providers and data centers.

Cooper-Lake

Intel’s official statement to STH included the following:

Intel’s upcoming Cooper Lake processors will be supported on the Cedar Island platform, which supports standard and custom configurations that scale up to 8 sockets…Customers, including some of the largest AI innovators today, are uniquely interested in Cooper Lake’s enhanced DL Boost technology including the industry’s first inclusion of bfloat16 instruction processing support. We expect strong demand for the technology and processing capability with certain customer segments and AI usages in the marketplace that support deep learning for training and inference use cases.

The announcement also states that Intel’s upcoming 10nm Ice Lake will be the first CPUs to ship with Whitley platform support.

This could be good news for Intel’s 10nm ramp. It implies, at minimum, that yield on the process has improved enough that Intel won’t need a limited-time refresh from Cooper Lake. Ice Lake server is expected to introduce PCIe 4.0, eight-channel RAM support, and to be used with second-generation Intel Barlow Pass Optane DIMMs. Ice Lake also supports a wider range of AVX-512 instructions compared with Cooper Lake, though it’s not clear what this means for bfloat16 support. Ice Lake server hasn’t been confirmed to offer bfloat16 (at least, not to the best of my knowledge).

Of course, since the world economy is currently on fire, it’s also possible that the reason Intel feels better about introducing 10nm server CPUs early is that Intel expects demand for all chips to go sailing off a cliff over the next six months and thus won’t have any capacity problems. But that’s rather a lot to conclude purely on the basis of this news, so we’re guessing it’s due more to an improvement in yields.

Now Read:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *