Only four months have passed since the Intel announced the monstrous Xeon Cascade Lake processors with up to 56 cores, but successors are already on the way: the architecture Cooper Lake will have chips with the same core limit, but will bring some additional features.
Like Cascade Lake processors, Cooper Lake models will be part of the family Xeon Scalable, which is currently categorized into four lines: Xeon Bronze, Xeon Silver, Xeon Gold and Xeon Platinum. Such a variety exists so that Intel can serve different types of applications.
The Xeon Platinum category is the most advanced. This is where we will find the future 56-core Cooper Lake processor, in addition to slightly simpler models (with 48 cores, for example).
At least to some extent, it’s as if Intel has been bringing the current Xeon Platinum 9200 series of Cascade Lake architecture – which includes the powerful 56-core, 112-threaded Xeon Platinum 9282 – to the Cooper Lake family.
One of the differentials of Cooper Lake processors is the compatibility with larger memory widths. Another is support for the bfloat16 instructions, a floating point format developed by Google that is suitable for multi-core processing and that can optimize the performance of artificial intelligence-based applications.
In addition, while Xeon Cascade Lake AP chips are soldered to the motherboard (BGA standard), Cooper Lake chips will be based on the LGA 4189 socket, which will also be part of the Xeon processors with Ice Lake architecture that will form the next generation – these will bring more significant advances, including a 10 nanometer manufacturing process.
Presumably, the use of this socket will facilitate eventual migrations from Cooper Lake chips to Ice Lake (when applicable). But perhaps this is also a strategy by Intel to increase its range of options: it is said that Xeon Ice Lake chips will not support bfloat16 instructions, so Cooper Lake units will remain options for applications that benefit from this format.
According to the company, computers based on the Xeon Cooper Lake chips will be available from the first half of 2020.