A slide deck discussing Intel's (NASDAQ:INTC) next-generation server platform, known as "Purley," has been floating around the Web (via the AnandTech forums). The deck, dated May 2015, contains some very interesting information pertaining to this new server platform.
In one of the slides, Intel says Purley is the "biggest platform enhancement since Nehalem." For those of you who remember Intel's move to Nehalem -- which allowed Intel to return to a leadership position in x86 server chips -- this is an incredibly powerful statement.
And, from what I can tell, it's an accurate statement.
The slide deck includes a comparison of Intel's Grantley two-processor platform, the Brickland two-to-eight socket platform, and the upcoming Purley platform (which does away with the bifurcated EP/EX platforms).
With Purley, Intel is moving from a quad-channel memory architecture to a hex-channel memory architecture to deliver a roughly 50% increase in memory bandwidth. It also supports higher memory frequencies than does the Broadwell-EP CPU, which means memory bandwidth should go way up. This is a good thing considering Intel will need to keep these many high-performance cores fed.
Speaking of cores, with Broadwell-EX, as I reported last week, Intel will offer chips with up to 24 cores, up from 18 in Haswell-EX. Broadwell-EP will, per the aforementioned slide, support 22 cores -- once again an increase from 18 cores in the top Haswell-EP chips.
With the Purley platform, Intel will bump the core count up to 28. Also note that the Broadwell-EP chip supports 40 PCI Express lanes per CPU, and the Broadwell-EX chips support only 32 lanes per CPU. With the Skylake processors, the number of lanes is boosted to 48.
Finally, the Lewisberg PCH these processors will connect to gets a significant upgrade from Wellsburg and the older Patsburg. Compared to Wellsburg, Lewisburg is a huge upgrade.
We see an increase in USB2/3 ports from 8 to 14 and 6 to 10, respectively. Intel also crammed in 14 SATA3 ports, which is up from 10 on Wellsburg. Intel is also substantially increasing PCI Express connectivity on the chipset, going from 8 lanes of slower PCI Express 2.0 to 20 lanes of PCI Express 3.0.
Additionally, Intel is integrating something called an "Innovation Engine" into the chipset, which the slide deck says is a "dedicated core for increased customer control." It's also including 4x10GbE lanes, which is a massive improvement from the 1GbE integrated into Wellsburg. Finally, the chipset will integrate Intel's QuickAssist cryptography accelerator engine directly onto the chipset.
Something for everybody
In addition to the processor and chipset improvements, Intel is also taking it a step further at the platform level, per the slide deck.
Intel says it will be bringing "all-new memory architecture" that will enable four times the capacity relative to its last platform. It also claims to allow for "persistent data" (the contents of memory don't go away when power is removed), but at the same time is 500 times faster than traditional NAND flash.
The slide mentions Purley will have integrated Ethernet and OmniPath interconnects and should also allow for a whole host of optional accelerators. The slide talks about the QuickAssist encryption/decryption accelerators, notes that Skylake can be paired with FPGAs, and even mentions that it can be integrated with "Cannonlake graphics & media transcode." Cannonlake, for those of you unfamiliar with it, is the codename for the architecture that follows Skylake.
This looks like a winner
Intel's Purley platform should be a winner. More cores, more integration, and more features are always a winning combination, and it looks like with Purley, Intel is delivering nicely on all of those fronts.
Sadly, according to the roadmap found in the slide deck, Purley likely won't launch until sometime in 2017. Broadwell-EP/EX look like they should be compelling upgrades from Haswell-EP/EX, though, as they include more cores and should be much more power efficient thanks to the move to 14-nanometer manufacturing.
Intel's data center product story is just awesome; Intel is delivering leadership products today, and it looks like the company is only accelerating the competitiveness of its future data center products. This is a recipe for continued success if I've ever seen one.