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It Looks Like Intel Made a 96

Jun 11, 2023

If you're the type of business that needs Amazon Web Services (AWS) for cloud computing horsepower, the company has one heck of a "general purpose instance" available for rent. Amazon is currently offering an instance with a 96-core Intel Xeon processor, which is way more cores than is available on any retail product from Intel. Its current Xeon chips top out at 60 cores. This indicates that Intel has crafted a custom piece of silicon just for Amazon while also hinting at its future roadmap.

As a scalable cloud computing service, AWS offers a litany of different server configurations for customers to choose from according to their needs. At the top of the general-purpose stack is the M7i family, which features an instance named "m7i.48xlarge." This computing behemoth offers 96-cores and 192-threads, along with support for up to 768GB of DDR5 memory. What's notable here is that the chip doesn't exist in Intel's current product line. If you're thinking it's a different product line Intel hasn't talked about yet, Amazon's site says AWS EC2 is powered by "4th Generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors," so it's crystal clear what processor family it's using.

Despite being a 4th Gen Scalable Xeon, the chips you can buy top out at 60 cores on the Intel Xeon Platinum 8490H Processor. Turning to the Max series with high-bandwidth memory (HBM), those chips feature a maximum of 56 cores with the Intel Xeon CPU Max 9480 CPU. Intel has never offered a server CPU with this many cores, notably the same number as AMD's existing 4th Gen Epyc CPUs, aka "Genoa." This just begs the question, "If Intel can match AMD on core count, why isn't it doing it with its official lineup?"

We'll never know the answer to that question, as Intel has already announced its 4th Gen Scalable architecture, and no known plans exist to launch a new halo chip. At the same time, AMD has already leapfrogged its own formerly class-leading core count with the just-launched Epyc "Bergamo," which features 128 Zen 4c cores. The company is also seemingly keeping a Genoa-X CPU with 768MB of V-Cache in the lab for now, which could feature up to 1.1GB of L3 cache in total.

Regardless, we're curious to learn more about this mystery chip, but we doubt Intel will comment publicly. Since we know it exists, the question is whether it'll make it available to the broader data center and cloud computing market, as it would likely compete well against AMD's Epyc CPUs. The Register notes it had reached out to both Amazon and Intel and is waiting for more details, which we hope are forthcoming.