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With the recent launch of 4th Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, Intel has achieved a notable advancement by offering the greatest number of built-in accelerators on the market, helping meet the needs of today's most demanding workflows. In doing so, Intel has maximized the Intel Xeon processor's performance, increased efficiencies, and reduced the need for additional supporting hardware to run on a PCIe card for simpler and more cost-effective deployments, which in turn assists an organization's sustainability efforts.

Several built-in acceleration options are available to offload a range of functions, such as security, encryption, data streaming and more, providing great flexibility to meet a variety of workloads. But, these choices can also lead to confusion in deciphering the different processor SKUs, and which combinations offer the acceleration and performance you need. The consequences of selecting a less-than-ideal match are potentially purchasing the wrong solution or generating a result that falls short of its full potential.

As a longtime solution ally of Intel's, WWT has been a key participant in this important launch. We've received early access to these flexible and highly performative processors to test and explore in the Advanced Technology Center (ATC).

Sharing our knowledge of this next-generation processor family, we'll summarize how the Intel Xeon Scalable processor generations have evolved, dive into a few key built-in accelerator options, explain Intel's SKU naming conventions and take a closer look at the use cases for three new accelerators. Understanding these details can prove critical for choosing the right solution, optimizing its full potential and helping achieve your sustainability goals with these new on-chip acceleration features.

The evolution of Intel Xeon Scalable processors

With each generation of the Intel Xeon Scalable processor, Intel has offered ever-improving capabilities to help IT organizations meet the changing needs of business and the resulting demands that are placed on data centers. From supporting the growth and usage of data to addressing security threats and moving toward a flexible and open technology mindset, each generation has evolved to meet current needs while positioning for the future:

  • The original Intel Xeon Scalable processor debuted in 2017, when digital transformation was a critical focus for businesses and IT modernization to create a performant data center was key to earning a competitive advantage.
  • 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors arrived two years later with enhanced performance to support the enormous growth of data and increasing demands on IT and the data center to power a data-driven future and data-centric transformation.
  • 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors, released in 2021, expanded beyond supporting data to helping businesses utilize that data for actionable insights with a more efficient and performant data center, flexibly harnessing the power of information. This transition led to…
  • 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors, released in early 2023, designed for the most demanding workflows including analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), networking, storage and high-performance computing (HPC). In addition to built-in acceleration, it also encompasses advancements such as 80 lanes of PCI Express 5 (PCIe 5.0), support for Compute Express Link (CXL) 1.1 protocol and DDR-5 memory.

Intel's overall approach is to enable IT organizations to do more with less: deriving greater performance from fewer cores, reducing power requirements, shrinking the data center footprint, supporting sustainability and open standards, and generally simplifying the data center infrastructure while maximizing efficiencies. Intel advancements are driving technology to the next level by working closely with leading OEMs including Cisco, Dell and HPE, along with WWT.

The most built-in accelerator options of any data center CPU

As workloads have grown in size and complexity, so has the need for accelerators to offload specific tasks from the processor for better per-watt performance. The original Intel Xeon Scalable processor was equipped with just two built-in accelerators; and now the 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processor leads the industry with an unprecedented fourteen acceleration options. Among them are a handful of accelerators with all-new capabilities, including:

  • Intel® Advanced Vector Extensions for vRAN
  • Intel® Advanced Matrix Extensions
  • Intel® Trust Domain Extensions
  • Intel® In-memory Analytics Accelerator
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Recognizing the possibilities, software application vendors are incentivized to design their new product releases to take advantage of these processor capabilities, bringing functions together in a single component and getting to outcomes in the most efficient way. But in order to get the most out of these accelerator options, it's essential to understand which accelerator is included in which SKU through the product name.

Understanding the Intel processor naming convention

For IT organizations, the key to choosing the right acceleration options lies not only in understanding the different choices but also how to decipher the processor SKUs that identify them. Intel facilitates the selection process with consistent six-digit naming conventions – a "key code" that can be read as follows:

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First digit: SKU level

  • Platinum – Advanced socket performance designed for the most demanding workloads and services from edge to cloud.
  • Gold – Scalable performance, advanced reliability and advanced security.
  • Silver – Performance and power efficiency for entry compute, network and storage.
  • Bronze – Reliability and serviceability for small business and storage server solutions.

Second digit: Processor generation

  • 4 = 4th Gen
  • 3 = 3rd Gen
  • 2 = 2nd Gen
  • 1 = 1st Gen

Third and fourth digits: processor SKU

Fifth and sixth digits: Specific workload optimization choices

For example, if your workflow is oriented toward storage, your SKU would end in "S" – as in the Intel® Xeon Gold 6454S, in which "6" describes Gold level, "4" represents 4th Gen and "5-4" indicate such details as 2.2GHz, 32C/64T, 60Mb Cache, Turbo, HT (270W) and DDR5-4800. Understanding these SKU descriptors is key to knowing with confidence you've selected the right processor to meet your needs.

Matching the right SKUs to three new Intel® Accelerator Engines 

To demonstrate the selection process, let's highlight a trio of new built-in accelerators, identify the workloads they would benefit and then determine their ideal SKUs.

Intel® Quick Assist Technology (Intel® QAT) offloads encryption/decryption and compression, making it ideal for enhanced security applications. While Intel QAT itself is not new, it previously required an additional PCIe card or chipset; now as a built-in accelerator, Intel QAT gives 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors the unsurpassed ability to compress and encrypt in a single data flow. 

  • The recommended SKU would be the Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8460Y+, featuring 2.0Ghz, 40C/80T, 105Mb cache, Turbo, HT (300W) DDR5-4800, a feature plus SKU optimized for Crypto Acceleration and Security Gateway, along with accelerating network workloads and solutions. This processor also supports the Intel® Speed Select Technology Performance Profile, which allows the CPU to run in one of three performance profiles (defined by core count, base frequency and TDP).

Intel® Dynamic Load Balancer (Intel® DLB) is a new, built-in hardware accelerator for handling network data on multicore Intel Xeon Scalable processors, providing load-balanced, prioritized packet scheduling for more efficient core-to-core communication. A complementary feature with Intel QAT, Intel DLB is best suited for high-packet-rate environments like 5G, in which network throughputs of hundreds of gigabits are increasing, and dynamic load balancing and complex scheduling types are more vital than ever; consequently, processing needs to keep up with network performance. 

  • The recommended SKU would be Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8470N, featuring 1.7GHz, 52C/104T, 98Mb cache, turbo, HT (350W) and DDR5-4800 – optimized for networking, 5G and edge workloads and solutions.

Intel® Data Streaming Accelerator (Intel® DSA) is a high-performance data copy and transformation accelerator that offloads the task of moving data from applications to devices, driving greater performance for storage, networking and data-intensive workloads. Intel DSA speeds large files across the processor, memory and caches, as well as all attached memory, storage and network devices. One use case example might involve the location and retrieval of search results in which a desired large file resides on a distant server; Intel DSA expedites the process to save time and resources, freeing up the processor for other functions. 

  • The recommended SKU would be the Intel® Xeon® Gold 6454S, featuring 2.2Ghz, 32C/64T, 60Mb cache, Turbo, HT (270W) DDR5-4800 — optimized for storage workload and usages.

Simplify your 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable CPU choice for peak performance

From the data center to the edge, high-performance compute demands are greater than ever, and processors are being taxed to their limit. The new generation of Intel Xeon Scalable processors with built-in acceleration capabilities offload encryption, load balancing, data streaming and more — all without the need for additional cards and complexity.

The key is in selecting the most appropriate processor SKUs containing the most relevant acceleration features for your workflows, providing the cost-effective performance you need along with the efficiencies to help you achieve your sustainability goals.

We invite you to experience the performance capabilities of 4th Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with built-in acceleration in the ATC, our collaborative R&D ecosystem where customers can engage with WWT engineers for a deep dive into choosing the ideal processing solution for their unique requirements. Here in the ATC, you'll find information resources, hands-on training and expert assistance to guide you through the selection process of determining which processors and acceleration feature sets are the best match for any given workflow environment.

Contact us for a personal demonstration of how the 4th Gen Intel Xeon processor can accelerate your most demanding workflows.