Intel has delayed the release of its 4th Generation Xeon Scalable “Sapphire Rapids” processor for a number of times without disclosing its reasoning. Last week the company admitted that it had to change up Sapphire Rapids because of a security bug, but it appears that the problem is bigger than Intel says. According to Igor’s LabSapphire Rapids had about 500 bugs that required the company 12 steps to fix them.
Intel’s fourth Gen Xeon Scalable Sapphire Rapids’ processor will not only increase core count to up to 60, but will bring in numerous new features, including Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX), Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA), CXL 1.1 protocol, DDR5 and HBM2E memory support, PCIe Gen 5 interface, and many more. But the host of additional features increase probability of hardware bugs, so Intel had to fix almost 500 of them, Igor’s Lab reports.
So far, Intel has released A0, A1, B0, C0, C1, C2, D0, E0, E2, E3, E4 and E5 steppings of Sapphire Rapids processor to fix nearly 500 bugs. Given that modern processors integrate tens of billions of transistors, it is inevitable that they have a certain number of bugs. They are called errata and are mitigated with microcode or even software updates. But 500 errata seems overwhelming, as does 12 respins considering that a respin costs tens of millions of dollars.
Although it is expensive to build new respins, the more pressing issue is that Intel has to delay release of its next-generation datacenter CPUs. Right now, Intel targets 2023 calendar week 6 to 9 (Feb. 6, 2023 to March 3, 2023) launch window for high-volume Sapphire Rapids processors. Meanwhile, some SPR products may launch on 2022 calendar week 42 and 2022 calendar week 45.
For Intel, the Sapphire Rapids processor and the Eagle Stream platform are crucially important products. Not only they are expected to improve Intel’s competitive positions on the datacenter market, but they will open doors to the company’s next generation products — the codenamed Emerald Rapids processor due in 2023.