Hands-on with the Platinum 9200 CPU 56-core Xeon: Intel’s Biggest CPU Package Ever. When Intel announced the new Cascade Lake family launched officially last week, it added to its portfolio a new product segment–the’ Advanced Performance’ or AP. These come in the form of the Xeon Platinum 9200 family, featuring two of Intel’s high-end processors in a single package, doubling the cores and doubling the memory in a much denser environment.
Hands-on with the Platinum 9200 CPU 56-core Xeon
These processors are purely density-focused and are BGA only so that OEMs will only sell them as complete systems, who actually buy them from Intel and make changes. We had the opportunity to hold and take some pictures of one of these big CPUs.
The package measures 76.0 x 72.5 mm, making it the largest CPU – based * package ever made by Intel, beating out the 67.6 x 62.5 mm old Intel Pentium Pro and the 75.4 x 58.5 mm EPYC package from AMD.
Inside the package are two XCC enabled silicon die, one designated a master, and one a slave. The die itself is each about ~694mm2.
The Park’s biggest baller
The socket is officially called FCBGA5903, which stands for the 5903 flip-chip ball – grid array, with 5903 being the number of contacts or ‘ balls ‘ on the underside, like an embedded chip. AMD’s EPYC chip, on the other hand, has 4094 pins. Most of the reason for all these contacts is in the memory: since this Platinum 9200 processor has twelve memory channels, all these pins are needed. There’s also a little more power, as the TDP is 400W for the 56-core version.
Intel offers four different Platinum 9200 types to start with:
The processor is definitely about 200-300 g, or half a pound, in terms of weight. This was very scientifically measured by comparing it to the weight of my heaviest phone in my hands and then comparing it to two phones. The chip certainly has some heavy bulk, but it’s unlikely that even people who use the chip will ever hold it, given that it’s a BGA design.
If we look at the design sideways, we can see that there are three distinct layering stages in the package (five if you include the caps). The light brown and dark brown layers total up to 18 layers (recorded by eye, difficult to see in difficult light), and the dark brown layers clearly double the thickness of the light brown layers, which may indicate that these are the package’s power planes. We usually see processors with a total of 8-12 layers anywhere, so this is another step above that.
The fine pitch between the contacts is shown by a close up of the ball array. The underside condensers are extremely small compared to other CPUs – I mean very small. There are 87 capacitors in each of these corners, making a total of 348. Pricing is not expected to be disclosed for this processor family. Intel has stated that as they sell these chips to OEMs as part of barebones servers, they are unlikely to partition the parts list pricing and expect OEMs to cost them properly.
Because the new high-end Intel Xeon Platinum 8280L, with 28 cores and 4.5 TB memory support, runs just ~$18k shy, we could see the top Xeon Platinum 9282 is anywhere from $ 25k to $ 50k, based on Intel margins, OEM margins, and markup.
Intel may have FPGA products exceeding this size, mainly due to onboard HBM and other chipsets.